December 7, 2020
Dancers deserve clarity and fair treatment – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that dance teachers and performing arts organisations across the country deserve clarity after being left unable to teach classes under current public health restrictions.

This is despite the fact that children are gathering in schools every day and exemptions had been made for GAA training and other sports.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“On Thursday last week, I joined protesters at the gates of Leinster House demanding clarity for dance groups across the country who have been ignored by Government since the start of this pandemic.

“On several occasions since the start of the pandemic I have sought clarity from Minister Catherine Martin about the government’s different approach to dance in comparison to other sports and forms of cultural expression.

“Despite the fact that permission was given last week for dancers to resume classes in ‘pods of one’, this is not sustainable and there is still no clarity about when dance classes can resume at the same level as other sports.

“In lieu of being allowed to reopen, Dance teachers, studios and schools are seeking access to funding and supports made available to other cultural and sporting groups, as many are struggling to survive running up to Christmas.

“To date, Minister Martin’s responses have been confusing or dismissive in terms of what supports are available to dance teachers, schools, studios and organisations, and why they have been side-lined regarding the easing of COVID restrictions in comparison to other sports or artistic and cultural expressions.

“The way dancers have been treated simply has not been good enough.

“We in Sinn Féin have been demanding action on this from Government for months, and proposed in our Alternative Budget for Rebuilding the Arts that a Hardship Fund for Artists and Entertainment Workers be established under the Arts Council to ensure workers, including dance teachers, are assisted to pay the bills and make ends meet.

“It is also ridiculous that it’s one rule for some sports and another rule for the rest. Dance is recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, and it’s the number one physical activity for young and teenage girls. Yet it has been completely left behind.

“I met a teacher at the protest who said she even arranged for her dance class to use a GAA pitch and train outside, socially distanced, but this was not allowed, even though a team sport involving physical contact was allowed to train in the same spot.

“Dancing schools and organisations have abided by all the rules and accept the need for health guidelines, but there should be one clear rule for everyone.

“We have had Government Senators and TDs sharing contradictory interpretations of what the decision would mean for teachers.

“The change in restrictions also doesn’t deal with the just demand for fair treatment or that children, whose entire social life, physical fitness, and mental wellbeing revolve around their dance and performing arts groups, are given the outlet they need.

“I am once again calling on the Minister to meet with the dance organisations and listen to their demands, and I’d encourage dancers to contact their local government TD and demand more action.”

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