Falkirk dance schools in plea to be allowed to reopen

Dance teachers across the district have written to the Scottish Government asking why they have not been allowed to reopen.

By Jill Buchanan
Thursday, 30th July 2020, 5:30 pm

In an open letter from dance and performance schools across the country and addressed to Nicola Sturgeon, John Swinney and Jeane Freeman, the teachers hit out at the government for having not provided the sector with indicative opening dates.Highlighting a lack of direct support for dance businesses since the end of this month, the letter states that many businesses operate facilities which “generate large overheads” and said they were “not sustainable without further financial aid”.Outdoor contact and non-contact sport was given the green light to restart on July 13 while indoor gyms are set to open in August if Covid-19 remains suppressed.Amanda Clark of Central Scotland Ballet School is one of those who signed the letter.She said: “We have been unable to teach in person since the middle of March and, like many local dance schools, have been delivering dance tuition online as an alternative. Our school has delivered over 400 classes and dance events online but this is not a long-term or sustainable option. “Unlike sports, dance does not have a governing body to help advise, regulate or liaise with the government. Most qualified teachers are registered with independent societies who are trying to interpret English guidelines but as yet are unable to offer any assistance at all to the Scottish sector. Dance schools in particular are able to monitor attendees and ensure social distancing and hygiene measures as required with qualified teachers providing risk assessments and completing additional training in preparation.‘‘Unfortunately, those schools like ourselves who use community venues face the additional pressure of those venues remaining closed indefinitely or re-opening with unmanageable restrictions. We all understand the responsibility we hold in protecting our young dancers but do need clarity on when and how we may be able to re-open our businesses.”She added that dance is unique in that it is both an active, creative and educational activity but is not included in education or sports guidance.“The creative industries support around £9 billion of activity within the wider Scottish economy, contributing £5.5 billion to Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product. Obviously this includes much more than just dance and theatre but, before this, we were a part of one of the fastest growing sectors which now faces the challenge of recovering from the brink of collapse at local and national levels.”A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We do not underestimate the devastating impact this pandemic has had on dance and performance schools.“We want to see indoor leisure facilities, including dance studios, re-open as soon as it is safe to do so and we will review the regulations again on Thursday. To ensure indoor leisure facilities re-open carefully and safely, we are currently developing guidance on physical distancing and hygiene measures.”

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