Victorian Government again refusing to support activities for 150,000 children

Jason Coleman Ministry of Dance
Students from the Evolution Program at Jason Coleman's Ministry of Dance at Victorian Dance Festival's Ignite. Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Dance Arts Alliance is urgently calling on The Victorian Government to let Dance and Performing Arts schools open across the state, in line with primary and secondary schools.

Currently, 150,000 Victorian children have no access to their studios, with many not having the infrastructure to be able to access online classes.
Since October 2020, Dance Arts Alliance have been seeking scientific evidence around the ongoing restrictions placed on their businesses through Freedom of Information requests to the Victorian Government – these have been systematically ignored.

‘By refusing to respond to our Freedom of Information requests to see the science behind the decision to keep dance and performing arts studios closed, the Victorian Government is ignoring fundamental democratic rights. As a business, I would lose my licence by shirking legislated
process,” says Mike Harrison-Lamond, Chair of Dance Arts Alliance.

Dance Arts Alliance is challenging the inconsistency of this approach, with children being able to attend primary and secondary schools to do their VCE subjects and taking dance in school halls with no social distancing enforced, yet they cannot attend a professional business with COVID
Safe plans in place, enforced density quotients, and qualified professional teachers. Infuriatingly, brothels are even allowed to reopen while children’s dance studios are not!

There has not been a single case of COVID in a Dance and Performing Arts School in Australia, and only one documented case globally – a full-day, mass adult fitness class in Korea with no COVID plan or social distancing in place.

Through the ongoing discrimination against the dance and performing arts school industry, a large number of these studios have had to close their doors in 2020, some having been in business for decades. By prolonging this lockdown unnecessarily and with insufficient financial compensation, more businesses are facing ruin.

Dance Arts Alliance estimate its industry is losing over $5 million a week. Each week in Victoria, over 150,000 children attend one of the 1000 Dance and Performing Arts schools across the state (source: ABS Children’s Participation in Sport, Victoria, 2016). Dance and Performing Arts provides pathways for students for VCE and VCE VET as well as Nationally Recognised Training up to Advanced Diploma.

‘The Victorian Government do not understand our industry, and it appears decisions are being made with no scientific evidence,” explains Harrison-Lamond. We need to open in a safe manner immediately, especially as we have no JobKeeper and are paying full commercial rent. $2000 a week is a drop in the ocean of debt that is mounting for these businesses.’

We need to band together, contact our local MPs and make some noise to save our industry. Share this article, make calls, send emails and let’s get our studios open without restriction!

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