Tackling inactivity through dance

The government’s latest strategy Sporting Future: A new strategy for an active nation is focussed on getting people physically active to improve health and social outcomes. It has defined physical activity as: sports, dance, walking and cycling and this represents a major opportunity for the dance sector to contribute to this national priority. The aim is to get the nation physically active and meet health and social outcomes through sport and dance.

The five outcomes in the new Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s Sporting Future strategy are:

  1. Physical wellbeing
  2. Mental wellbeing
  3. Individual development
  4. Social and community development
  5. Economic development


Sport England

Sport England has £245 million of funding allocated to tackle inactivity and outlined in their Sport England Strategy: Towards an Active Nation

Sport England has now widened its remit to include: Sports, Dance, Walking and Cycling for leisure.
Also it will widen its remit to include:

  • Children aged 5 years upwards (previously 14 years upwards)
  • A major focus now on under represented groups and getting the most inactive groups active. These are women and girls, disadvantaged communities, people living with disabilities and older people.
  • Focus on meeting social outcomes through active recreation; improving health and wellbeing, individual development and social cohesion

The strategy claims:

“Sport England will fund wider forms of walking for leisure and dance than we do today by investing in what is most appealing to our target audiences, and will deliver on the outcomes. We will not displace existing funding (e.g. from Arts Council England) and will not intervene where there is already a strong commercial offer.”

This is an exciting opportunity for participatory dance that is ideal to meet multiple outcomes. It represents a significant source of funding for the dance sector, however it will need to evidence meeting social outcomes and engaging inactive and underrepresented groups.

Organisations, artists and practitioners will benefit from strong partnerships with the sports, health and social care sectors.  Also building links with sports partners at a local and regional level will mean dance can be better embedded in broader physical activity programmes.