This month marks four years since we launched ‘Dance Professionals Fund’ at the House of Lords. None of us could have foreseen then where we would be four years later. The launch celebrated the merger of two charities. The Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund and the Dance Teachers Benevolent Fund became Dance Professionals Fund. The event couldn’t happen today. We would have had to choose from sending out the cancellation notices, or holding a ‘virtual launch’. It would be disappointing. But the only option in this current emotional coronacoaster of a life we are all leading.
Of all the ‘lockdown lingo’ coronacoaster seems to be the mot juste for the entire pandemic. Rules and regulations keep changing. Things reopen, such as shops, but then new caveats apply; customers can only enter if wearing a mask. The Association of Convenience Stores has reacted to this news confirming that if members break this rule ‘we won’t shop you’ They feel customers could get provoked if turned away. No wonder everyone is frazzled.
As we have seen things permitted to open up again, one of the last in line is live theatre. The government has announced that theatres can reopen for live indoor performances from 1 August 2020. Monitoring pilot schemes and adequate safety measures need to be put in place first. The government also publicising the £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts. Industry insiders agree is not going to solve all the issues. This is due to the enormous challenges that the industry faces.
Sir Matthew Bourne tweeted his concern, ‘Why make these announcements when they know that the vast majority of theatre, dance and music is not financially viable under ‘Covid secure’ conditions?’
We, along with other benevolent funds and industry groups are working to support the sector. We’ve been working with Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and Equity. SOLT said ‘it isn’t practical or economically viable for shows to open with social distancing’. Equity’s view is that ‘the reality is the vast majority (of venues) will not be opening’. We now know that many theatre shows may not in fact open until 2021 at the earliest.
We will continue to give out grants to dancers and choreographers for as long as the support is needed. We know that this might be for quite some time to come. We are also supporting dance teachers. Email us at email@example.com if you would like further information on any of our work.
We are still working with remote access but can function as normal, relying on resources such as zoom. We are all for a bit of blue skype thinking anyway (sorry it’s that lockdown lingo again…).