Theatre audience photograph

Theatre and Dance NI is dedicated to advocating for our members and the wider arts ecosystem. Our work involves engaging with various stakeholders to highlight key policy issues and drive change. We believe it is crucial for the true value of our sector to be recognised and for the rights, health, and well-being of its workers to be supported and protected, just as other sectors are.

We leverage our expertise to support the arts sector in NI by demonstrating its value and positive impact on our society. In partnership, we work to influence policy development, including through research, focus groups, and consultations. By building relationships and engaging with statutory bodies, politicians, local authorities, and other stakeholders, TDNI champions and promotes the sector’s value and increases its visibility through high-level advocacy efforts.

As Secretariat of the All-Party Group on the Arts, TDNI collaborate with Arts Council of NI, Thrive, Circusful, Arts & Business NI and other cross-artform organisations to collectively lobby for the wider sector and inform policy. This engagement continues as part of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Taskforce and Arts Collaboration Network.

TDNI disseminates information through networks such as Dance Ireland, Theatre Forum (now  Performing Arts Forum), Irish Theatre Institute, Independent Theatre Council, UK Theatre, and  UK Dance Network, supporting broader audience development and information capture.

We are a key contributor to research reports such as Dance Counts, Dance Conversations and Building Capacity for the Cultural Industries: towards a Shared-Island Approach for Dance and Theatre, Investing in Creative Delivery, CAH Taskforce – see below.

We also enhance cross-border collaboration through research initiatives, working with partners to strengthen North-South connections and sectoral initiatives. Following the UCD/QUB research (Dance Counts, Building Capacity for the Cultural Industries, 2019-2022), TDNI continue to work with partners maximising North-South connections, sectoral initiatives, and partnerships, enhancing cross border and cultural change.

Through these efforts, Theatre and Dance NI continues to provide a strong, representative, and authoritative voice for our members, advocating with them and on their behalf, and supporting the arts sector’s growth and recognition.

If you are interesting in engaging or contributing to any of our advocacy efforts, please contact

Research Reports

The Way Forward document sets out a codesign approach and timetable to bring a draft vision and strategy forward by Spring 2023 for subsequent statutory public consultation. It includes a Culture, Arts and Heritage Strategy Taskforce, which follows on from work of stakeholders who shaped emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and who called for a longer term vision and strategy to support recovery.


The reconvened Culture Arts & Heritage Strategy Taskforce brought together stakeholders from across the sectors who have mapped out a development and investment report to reorientate how the culture, arts and heritage sectors are collectively perceived, engaged and supported across government.

The work of the Taskforce has now concluded with the presentation of the report, ‘Investing in Creative Delivery,’ to the Department. This report will inform the process to develop a new Culture, Arts and Heritage Strategy.


Dance Counts Report 2022 brings together key findings from two major all-island research projects seeking to understand the working conditions and experiences of dance practitioners on the island of Ireland: the Dance Counts survey and the Dance Conversations study.

Led by Dr Aoife McGrath (Queen’s University Belfast) and Dr Victoria Durrer (UCD) in collaboration with Dance Ireland and Theatre and Dance NI, Dance Conversations was a mixed methods dance, film and discussion-based research project undertaken with six dance artists from both sides of the border. Dance Conversations addressed a need, articulated by professional dance artists at the Co-Motion Dance Conference in October 2019 and in the March 2021 industry-led Dance Think Tanks Report, for collaborative development of North/South creative exchanges and better understanding of the shared living and working conditions of dance artists across the island of Ireland.


Dance Ireland and Theatre and Dance NI, in collaboration with Dr Aoife McGrath (QUB) and Dr Victoria Durrer (UCD), undertook a research project funded by the Co-Operation with Northern Ireland funding scheme within the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

‘Dance Conversations’ addresses a need articulated by professional dance artists at the Co-Motion Dance Conference in October 2019 and in the March 2021 Dance Think Tanks Report for collaborative development of North/South creative exchanges and better understanding of the shared living and working conditions of dance artists across the island of Ireland.


This report presents the findings from a research project that brought together new and existing academic and sector-based research to understand how all-island relations within the professional, publicly-subsidised performing arts of dance and theatre may be nurtured.


The Arts Council’s Strategic Development Department delivers a comprehensive programme of research and evaluation which:

  • Builds evidence-based knowledge and understanding of the role and impact of art on people’s lives
  • Identifies patterns of engagement and factors affecting engagement in the arts
  • Helps create more diverse, equal and confident communities by addressing inequalities as they related to race, disability and gender.