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Struggling To Understand Government Approach To Grass Roots Performing Arts

Posted by Team APATA | May 26, 2020

We celebrate cultural life in Australia from the grass roots with schools across the country offering lessons in dance, circus, music, theatre and writing to name a few, but when it comes to the priorities of what can and cannot open, how the roll out of reopening is managed and funds to support a return, its challenging to watch at the moment if you’re a teacher in the performing arts running your own studio – it’s a business isn’t it? A livelihood  and a community service?

To make sure our creative industry survives we need to be considered as part of the system and the priority list. Look I understand hair, nails, and bite to eat with friends and a beverage or two to reconnect is important, but so too is students returning to their after school activities.

Noting the wonderful initiative of the Queensland Government on Sunday announcing a return to community sport through the COVID SAFE Active Clubs Kickstart Program where funding of $2,000 to sporting or active recreational organisations is available so they can restart and continue delivery of physical activity opportunities to the Queensland community post-COVID-19 to reactivate community connection and healthy lifestyle. It’s great and I’ve noted ‘Recreation, sports and arts’ with arts tacked on the end with the key word ‘sport’ being the emphasis. On top of this is the opportunity for families to apply for a $150 fair play voucher which is also great to relieve the pressure on families to get kids back in sport.

Question…could Arts Queensland offer a similar program to help performing arts studios reactivate?

Now the first pointing of the finger at me will be ‘arts’ is included in the above scheme…but is it really? I’ve worked my way through the Queensland not-for-profit sport and recreation organisations that are registered with the program and there are several organisations listed which offer an element of ‘dance or cheer’ but certainly and mainly sports orientated.

So if I have two kids at home – one is into footy so she’s off and running with the only decision needing to be made being, ‘which parent they take to the field, as only one is permitted’. The other is into music, dance, and circus… so they have nothing, no classes, no reactivation! Doesn’t a music lesson transform my child’s mood? Ballet and circus class achieve healthy lifestyle, connection, and community? Doesn’t the performing arts grass roots provide to community mental clarity? I think it does! I know my local dance and theatre school is the lifeblood of their community, with nowhere to go.

I understand patience is required and we’re all working through this together, but grass roots be it sport or the arts should be treated the same for teachers and students.

We warmly welcome all funding and support offered by governments across the country, but why is the performing arts always behind especially when 70% of artists who are currently completely out of work also earn a living beyond their creative work through teaching. Even several performing arts companies run academies and schools to nurture talent and introduce children to the craft of performing arts.

Surely like sport, teachers in performing arts running their own studios and businesses can be offered the same support. What amazes me even more with our teachers in the performing arts is they have continued to support their communities through one of the toughest periods by hosting classes online and supporting not only their students but parents as well. I’m sure many households are grateful!

I read a great post on socials during this difficult and disruptive period. ‘If a dance teacher was in charge of social distancing, they’d have everyone spaced out with their hands on their hips and a smile!

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