Dance schools across Victoria are in a frustrating situation. As community sports and even school camps have been given the green light to resume now that COVID restrictions are lifting, dance studios have not. An announcement of a reclassification of dance activity gave regional studios false hope earlier in the week as it looked as if they could reopen immediately, but the announcement was “clarified” only hours later, taking back the opportunity to resume classes.
The newly formed Dance Arts Alliance association has been busy rallying together, gaining media and political attention as it fights for our industry to be recognised and reclassified as a safe, educational, creative activity for children, and not the same as adult gyms with shared equipment. Surely, if contact sport is safe to resume, then dance being held at a professional studio with a COVID Safe plan is also permissible?
This week, the Chair of Dance Arts Alliance, Mike Harrison-Lamond, wrote to the Media Advisor to the Prime Minister, as well as many other MPs and leaders, outlining the desperate situation of dance schools across the state.
“I am the Chair of Dance Arts Alliance,” he said. “I represent the 1,000 dance schools across Victoria. We provide dance education and training to over 150,000 children every week.”
Explaining the unique situation faced by Victorian dance studios, Harrison-Lamond said, “The Premier of Victoria is refusing to let our schools open even though children in regional Victoria can now take dance in their school, play full contact sport on the oval and go to school camp. We received written confirmation by the Victorian Government that we could open under Restricted activity under Creative Studios, and within 24 hours, the Premier’s Office reneged on that advice, countering their own department!”
Sadly, he added, “The Premier has lumped our industry in with brothels, making us the last to open. (In Melbourne metro, it will be the last week of November.)”
Dance Arts Alliance and Ausdance are asking the Prime Minister to call out the Victorian Premier on backflipping on policy. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that socially distanced dance classes are anymore prone to the spread of disease than full contact sport, on the contrary we would agree that contact sport is much more likely to spread COVID.
“Our industry is in crisis, and we need to open in Step 3,” urged Harrison-Lamond. “That means now for regional Victoria and October 26 for metro Melbourne. Our children’s mental health is in crisis, and they need their dancing. Many of our dance parents have left us, saying, ‘We’ll see you next year.’ There won’t be a next year for a large portion of our studios.”
Help our dance schools to reopen. Please sign the petition below, and share this article with your community and leaders.
The petition calling to allow dance studios to open alongside other community sport can be found at www.change.org/p/daniel-andrews-allow-dance-studios-to-open-alongside-other-community-sport.