News

Two major national dance organisations join forces, aiming to embed dance in the Government’s Health & Wellbeing agenda in England.

23 Mar 2017

Tannery School, photo by Andrew Ford

One Dance UK and People Dancing launch initiative on 23 March 2017.

One Dance UK and People Dancing today announce the launch of a new initiative to strengthen the role that dance plays in improving the health and wellbeing of England. The partnership between these two major dance bodies, brings together the expertise of People Dancing, in community dance and inclusive dance, and of One Dance UK in youth dance and dance in education.

The Strategic Framework for Dance in Health and Wellbeing will advocate for dance, and influence at a national strategic level, as well as help create new opportunities for dance participation across England. Similar initiatives have been set-up in other UK nations; for example, in Scotland YDance (Scottish Youth Dance) have been successfully delivering projects such as YDance Active, getting girls and young women active through dance with funding from sportscotland.

As a form of cultural expression, dance is uniquely placed to respond to a wide range of health and social issues.  Dance combines physical activity with the engagement of the creative spirit, and encourages emotional and artistic expression in individuals, as well as connecting people socially.

Public Health England has identified physical inactivity as a major priority, as recent evidence has shown this contributes to 1 in 10 deaths in the UK, which is equal to the impact of smoking. It also costs the UK economy £8.7 billion a year. The UK’s population is less active than those of most other developed countries, including the USA, and women and girls are more inactive than their male counterparts. Dance is a popular activity, and is particularly effective in engaging women and girls in physical activity, so it has an important role to play. Not only will dance get people more active, but research shows it can also improve mental health, and reduce social isolation – a big issue, for example, with older people.

One Dance UK and People Dancing have joined forces to raise the profile of dance, and to demonstrate that making dance more widely available is an effective way of addressing some of the big issues for Governments – such as health inequalities, obesity, mental health, and inactivity.

Andrew Hurst, Chief Executive of One Dance UK, comments: “We are really pleased to be working with People Dancing in this important area; developing with them a Strategic Framework for Dance in Health & Wellbeing. This important initiative builds upon One Dance UK’s advocacy programme, and we look forward to making a stronger case for dance, and to strengthening partnerships with public health, social care and education.”

Chris Stenton, Executive Director of People Dancing, adds: “Engaging in the health and wellbeing agenda is not about changing what dance artists and teachers do – it’s about having confidence to know when and how to reframe the multitude of health and wellbeing benefits of dance and dancing. There are excellent examples already. Our ambition, through this new partnership with One Dance UK, is to scale this up so dance artists and organisations can make the most of new opportunities, engage in professional development and training, and access the latest research on how dance can improve health.”

There are other reasons to anticipate such opportunities ahead. Sport England has allocated £245 million of funding to tackle inactivity. It defines ‘physical activity’ as: sports, dance, walking and cycling, and it refers to the need for a wide and varied provision of dance. The PE (Physical Education) and School Sport Premium will also receive an increased investment of £160 million in September 2017, to get more children active, therefore influencing primary schools to spend more on high quality dance will be an immediate focus of this initiative.

Working closely with the public health, social care, education and sports sectors, the partnership will embed dance firmly within the health and wellbeing agenda.

Find out more at www.onedanceuk.org and www.communitydance.org.uk and to receive regular updates, sign up for the Dance in Health & Wellbeing newsletter at either of the above sites.