7 May 2020 10:35

RAD Australia writes to Advocacy body to petition Government for a safe return to the dance studio

As a Member Organisation of Ausdance National, RAD Australia has written to petition our national peak body for dance to act on behalf of the dance studio sector in its dealings with the Australian Government and Australia’s Arts bodies during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Ausdance representatives are meeting with government and arts representatives regularly to advocate for the Arts during this crisis.

Our letter references the fact that more than 1.3 million people dance in Australia, with 743,000 of them aged between just 6 – 13 years. 81% of children who participate in dance receive lessons (ABS, 2017-18) and as a world-leading dance education organisation, RAD Members are the grassroots foundation of Australian performing arts and culture and are present in suburbs, towns and cities across Australia.

Key points within that letter include:

  • Access to a skilled educator is paramount to the safety and wellbeing of dance enthusiasts and through RAD Australia’s teaching members up to 25,000 Australians of all ages (but particularly young people) take examinations annually with thousands more participating in dance recreationally.
  • With RAD and industry guidance and advice, our Members were amongst the first to put in place social distancing measures and increased hygiene practices at the start of the Pandemic and many have quickly adapted their business models to continue to service their students digitally.
  • Dance studio business are facing unprecedented competition from organisations and individuals worldwide that are responding to the crisis by offering digital dance classes for free. Whilst these dancers are talented professional artists, this does not always mean they are trained and experienced educators as RAD teaching members are.
  • RAD Members are experienced in the safe, appropriate and skilful education of dancers of all ages and abilities and undertake annual CPD to ensure their skills and knowledge is current and relevant across many aspects of dance training.
  • We reflect that the inherent nature of dance cannot rely on online tuition over a sustained period of time and requires live in-studio interaction. We acknowledge risks associated for those without access to a safe and appropriate space to practice dance with relevant supervision.
  • We appeal for a progressive and safe return to live studio training and examinations as soon as health advice can support this. We ask for clarity and specific communication around the return to dance classes and exams with the prospect of smaller controlled numbers of students and increased hygiene protocols. We cite the example of personal training and the ability for dance and exams to maintain a similar teacher to student ratio.
  • We acknowledge the work of Ausdance and the arts sector in advocating for economic support for dance artists and advocate further for our dance teaching members who have experienced an overnight loss of income.
  • We state RAD Australia’s position as a self-generating income earner with a reliance on its core activities heavily tied to the resumption of studio training for both dance students and dance teachers to sustain its overall business activities. We note we receive no federal or local government funding and that our income streams are in turn being impacted. The health and sustainability of dance studios is critical to ensuring we continue to provide services to our Members and dance communities across Australia.
  • We recognise that the Arts are, and will continue to be, vital as society comes to terms with the impact of COVID-19 and that the dance studio sector is a key vehicle for recovery for both physical and mental health for all Australians.

We continue to monitor government advice and are working with Ausdance National to ensure students can return to the studio as safely and soon as possible.