Dance Advocacy: An introduction by Michael Ellis

Michael Ellis, Minister of State (Department for Transport), previously Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, provides an introduction to advocating for Dance Education:

One of the pleasures of my role as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism has been engaging with One Dance UK, and the excellent work they and their members do to promote dance in the UK and internationally.  The UK is a leader and innovator in dance, and this would not be possible without the brilliant work One Dance UK does to support this vibrant sector.

This leadership and innovation springs from a well of dance education, both in and out of schools, with dance being compulsory in the PE curriculum for all 5-14-year olds. I’m aware of One Dance UK’s strong views regarding Cultural Education and the excellent work they have done to advocate for the place of dance in schools. We know that participation in sport and dance activities is positive for young people: those who take part in physical activity rate their overall wellbeing higher, are happier in general and find their life more worthwhile [1]. Who would not want that for their children? Government is clear that every child should experience a high-quality arts and cultural education throughout their time at school. Although the curriculum is overseen by the Department for Education, I will continue to work hard to champion the arts in all our schools.

We recently announced £5 million for Youth Performance Partnerships, creating five partnerships exploring new ways to bring arts organisations and schools together and bring the best of drama, dance and theatre into areas with low arts engagement. With Arts Council England’s new 10 Year Strategy in development and a proposed focus on recognising and nurturing the creative and cultural lives of children and young people, I am confident that the coming years represent a great opportunity to broaden the talent development pool, and  strengthen the offer for children and young people in dance.

On a personal note, I have enjoyed visiting Northampton School for Boys in my own constituency to see the superb dance teaching available. It has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm and talent of those pupils, and I know this enthusiasm is fuelled in part by the opportunity to perform at U.Dance, made available to them by One Dance UK. So a thank you to One Dance UK, and to all the committed dance teachers and professionals giving young people across the UK access to the benefits brought about by dance.

[1] What Works Wellbeing, Sport and Dance Evidence Review, 2018