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The road back to COVID safe studios: Premier Steven Marshall talks with Dance Informa

Covid safe dance

On Tuesday evening, Dance Informa’s Editor, Deborah Searle, was invited on a call with Steven Marshall, Premier of South Australia, by the Arts Industry Council of SA. On the call, Premier Marshall answered questions from the state’s leading arts organisations, addressing how the arts can survive and ultimately recover from this crisis.

Premier Marshall’s remarks can give us all in the wider Australian dance industry some more insight into what the months ahead may look like and how we can work to restore our industry and be safely dancing together again in the near future.

Premier Marshall began by stating that he acknowledged “that the arts sector was probably the first to be switched off and will possibly be one of the last, in terms of live performances, to come back on.” But he stressed that we all listen to this Friday’s announcements, saying, “The good news is that the national cabinet are meeting twice this week, and on Friday, we will be announcing our road map back, and arts is definitely part of it.”

South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall

Although, he warned that we shouldn’t get too excited too soon, adding, “It’s probably not going to be announced on Friday that all theatres can open up and all studios can open up, but there will be a lot more clarity about what that road back to a COVID safe environment is going to be. Certainly, we are very keen to make sure the arts feature in that because we know that not only is it a big employer in Australia, but the audiences are desperate to see new work. We’ve got a very strong appetite for arts in Australia!”

Throughout the call, Premier Marshall made it very clear that SA’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, “wants to do anything she possibly can to bring the arts back on in South Australia as soon as we can. Nicola Spurrier is a massive lover of the arts.”

In terms of the lifting of restrictions, Premier Marshall outlined that there will be a progressive lifting of gathering sizes, stating that it’s highly likely that gathering limits will be lifted from “something like 10 to 20, 20 to 50, 50 to 100, etc.”

But where does that leave dance companies and dance schools? Can we rehearse in our studios? Can we hold classes yet if we have 10 or less students?

To close the call Steven Marshall answered one of Dance Informa’s questions, offering the following advice:

“My key message to the industry is to think about when you can get back to live performances and events, and thinking yourself about what that agenda could look like. One of the things that Nicola Spurrier is really keen to see is industries and sectors themselves saying, ‘We have educated ourselves about this disease and issues like physical distancing, and this is our theatre, or this is our space, or this is our studio, and this is what we think should suffice to keep us, our team, and our audiences safe.’”

“We are pushing against an open door with her. She desperately wants to support the sector, I desperately want to support the sector, and the government wants to support the sector, but if you leave it up to health bureaucrats to try and interpret what might be a framework that could work in a dance organisation, versus a theatre, versus a visual arts gallery, they’re just not going to know enough about your practice. It is much better if the sector can be thinking, ‘This is our COVID safe plan, this is what we think we could do.’ If we’re going to be able to get contact sport up and running, we’re certainly going to be able to get arts up and running. Think about developing those plans, and you’re most welcome to send them to me. I will be delighted to present them to Nicola and then try to work with you.”

On that note, Dance Informa is currently working on a plan for safe studio reopening to present to the government, depending on Friday’s announcements. If you would like to provide input, please email us at info@danceinforma.com

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