Victorian dance schools on the verge of collapse
Dance is the most popular after-school activity for girls in Victoria, however, the Government has all but ensured the collapse of dance schools through a litany of on-the-run policy decisions being made by bureaucrats with little to no understanding of the dance industry.
While a large portion of regional Victorian businesses are rejoicing in opening their doors for the first time in months after lockdown, dance schools are forced to keep their doors shut and teach online in empty buildings with no COVID cases in their towns due to dance schools being inexplicably categorised alongside gyms.
Dance schools across Victoria have been frantically adapting their businesses since March by operating online, and have been doing it without government support.
A recent survey from Ausdance Victoria shows more than 50 percent of dance schools had not received a single cent of support from the Federal or State Governments because of their business structure. The recent sole trader grant of $3000 is the first support these studios have received and is a tragically small amount of money given many businesses have been shut for more than six months.
The survey also highlights that a staggering 92 percent of studio owners across the state are worried that their business will not survive until March 2021. These businesses are people’s livelihoods and this statistic alone demonstrates that the dance arts industry has been woefully supported by all levels of government.
The Victorian Government had reclassified dance studios to be under the umbrella of Creative Studios only days ago, however, that decision was immediately reneged hours before the restrictions lifted.
More than 150,000 children attend a dance and performing arts studio each week, yet none of these students will be able to take part in a class because of the misclassification, despite social distancing being a natural key component to the structure of dance classes.
Dance Arts Alliance is a newly-found representative body for dance schools working alongside Ausdance to ensure the needs of the dance schools are voiced and heard by government. They are urging that dance schools need to be reclassified immediately, and those schools with students aged 18 and under should reopen in line with education schools (that are operating face-to-face dance classes).
“This is a disgraceful way to treat an industry that provides incredibly important social, physical and mental development in the lives of young Victorians,” said Dance Arts Alliance chair Mike Harrison-Lamond.
They are a unique industry that provides vital wellbeing, social and physical health to young Victorians. Dance has proven to enhance social, physical and mental wellbeing as it releases endorphins—a chemical of the brain that stimulates a sense of euphoria—more than any other form of exercise.
“Children can learn dance in their local primary or high school, yet a professional school can’t open to provide the same service,” he added.
“Dance schools contribute $300m a year to the Victorian economy and we support teachers, independent dance artists, theatres, dancewear shops, and other related retailers. This is not a hobby industry, we are an important part of Victoria’s economic landscape.”