Open Dance Studios in Ontario
Open Dance Studios in Ontario
In light of Doug Ford's recent announcement on Thursday, May 20, 2021, we urge the Ontario government to allow for the immediate opening of dance studios in our province. Studio owners, competition owners, teachers, students and parents have been waiting for the studios to reopen by June but the plan is unclear. There has been no reported link to increased health risks and COVID-19, but there have been numerous reports of the adverse impacts on the mental and physical health on an entire generation.
Not only are our children being harmed by the closures of schools, but the Ontario government is continuing to harm the mental and physical health of our children (and dancers) by prohibiting them from activity, self-expression, cultural education and social interaction. It's been over a year and our children are tired, board, isolated and anxious. Prior to the pandemic, we've heard story after story about limiting screen time for our children and everything this Government has done has pushed more and more screen time. Our children have been mandated to stay home, sit in front of a computer/tablet all day. Let our children out; get them off screens and open up safe activity - open up dance studios.
Dance studio owners are small businesses and are being severely impacted as well. Studio owners have put their lives and souls into these studios (and our dancers!) and their longevity is being threatened by continued closures. Not only have the closures and measures impeded their revenue but the continued closures is threatening our children’s' love and engagement and education in dance. Currently, we're asking our dancers to stay online for school all day, then they are being asked to go online for dance all evening. How does that encourage and nurture a love for dance and education in the arts! If these studios do not make it through the pandemic restrictions an entire art is threatened, and an entire generation of learning will be gone.
Finally, we also urge the Ontario government to adopt the BC model for the COVID-19 framework. Within the BC framework, BC correctly classifies dance as an education (similar to arts, music and drama), which has been allowed to remain open. Ontario is classifying dance as adult fitness and sport. Our dance programs have structured teaching, training and exams, similar to education programs. We don't have coaches, we have teachers. We don't have fields/courts, we have classrooms. I highly urge the Ontario government to consider dance studios in the same category as other educational institutions.
While dance is great for physical and mental health, it is not primarily a fitness activity. While it requires athletic ability, it is not primarily a sport. While it brings joys to those who watch it, it is not primarily entertainment. It is an education, an art, and our culture and it needs to open safely and immediately. Our children’s well-being, the livelihood of small business owners, and the survival of the arts and our culture depend on it.