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 Post subject: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2001 4:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 54
Location: Warrington, Cheshire, UK
As UK Government funding for arts students enters its second year, perhaps it is time to reflect on the way in which funding is allocated. <P>I feel very strongly about funding arts students and campaigned myself a few years ago (before the new funding) for the council to reverse its decision not to fund any further students - which was successful and I understand some 12 students have benefited from that decision. The new funding must be welcomed but is it being well managed?<P> At present some 29 institutions have been allocated 'funded places' and undertake their own auditions, and final choice of students. <P> One difficulty is monitoring the standard of dance education in each institute. <P> Another is that many students invariably don't get the school of their choice and have to settle for 'what's available'. (Lets face it, the most successful schools will fill their places rather more quickly than one that does not have a good 'track record' or exam pass rate.)<P>I am of the opinion that we should be looking at funding the student rather than the institution for a number of reasons.<P>The student would be given the opportunity to audition for the institution (teacher) of their choice. They WANT to succeed and will seek out the best possible training to suit their needs.<P>Acclaimed schools would be inundated with applicants, but would be free to choose as many as they can accommodate, as finance would not be an issue. Those schools claiming equal status with the ones at the top would have to close their doors or improve.<BR> <BR>The situation where students are trapped on unsuitable dance courses, would be greatly reduced if not eradicated. <P>You may think I am being particularly hard on institutions. Not at all, but as there is very little to use in evaluating a course other than exam results, and those are well kept secrets (perhaps it is just as well - when a student is failed outright in an advanced level exam and the highest pass at major exam level is highly commended). How on earth must that student have felt, why was she entered for the exam in the first place?<P>I was shocked to learn of some students I got to know a few years back, who are now packing shelves, working in a petrol station and one in a vegetable shop - after spending years and years at a full time vocational dance school. Perhaps things would have been different if they and not the insitution had received the funding.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2001 11:24 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I tend to agree with you Caroline - however I would like to ask - how would you chose the student - and who would chose the student? <P>And that selection would have to be re-assessed at certain intervals. If the school at which the student studies does the verification of progress - that school might be reluctant to "fail" the student - because then the scholarship money would be lost. <P>I suppose there is no perfect system.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2001 12:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: Warrington, Cheshire, UK
Who would decide which students to fund? <P>A Government selected, voluntary 'panel of experts', with a new panel selected annually. <P>Each student applying for funding would need to have achieved a pre-set standard of examination result (as you would do for any academic funding). <P>No auditions would be necessary for funding, the auditions would come when applying for places in a school.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2001 2:33 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
What would happen then Caroline? Are you suggesting that the money be passed directly to the student or parent? <P>Problems that could arise with this situation:<P>- the money may be spent for another purpose<BR>- a school might be chosen that has unsafe premises or teaching methods, despite having a big name teacher. Teenage dancers are more concerned with 'success' than health issues that could ruin their lives.<BR>- if the school was not accredited in some way, there is no indication that the taxpayer is getting value for money, which is a requirement for all such funding especially in the age of the Audit Commission.<P>Other problems I foresee with your proposal:<P>- I suspect that there would be too many successful exam candidates for the number of grants. In the case of boys in particular, I'm not sure whether the exams are relevant. I think the schools are more interested in ability that they can mould. I'm not sure what exams Michael Nunn had passed after 18 months of dance classes when he went to the RBS. I suspect that auditions would be necessary which would make for a bureaucratic nightmare. <P>- dance people do not earn as much as the national average in most cases and do enough on a pro-bono basis as it is. It would be outrageous for the Government to ask dance professionals do carry out assessments voluntarily, even if such people could be found.<P>You are clearly unhappy with the current system that selects the schools which will receive grant places. If the central authorities cannot wisely select the criteria and the staff to make the system work, why should they be any better at selecting indivual students in a range of dance styles. <BR>If the system of selecting and reviewing schools and the number of places that they receive is inadequate then perhaps it is that system that should be reviewed.<P>Regarding the jobs that dancers have to do to make ends meet. I attended a rehearsal with a pick-up company working with an internationally known choreographer whose work has been on the national examing boards. One of the dancer is well known in the profession and is very good. I asked him what he had lined up, 'Not much he said. I'm afraid it will be back to a building site for me.' Most dancers struggle badly to make ends meet, even the very good ones if they are not in one of the handful of UK national comapnies for which international competition is ferocious. A friend of mine, RBS trained with lots of relevant experience failed to get into a major UK modern dance company. The nationally known, award winning company she now dances with provides no where near enough work to provide an annual wage. fortunately she has other strings to her bow.<P>A strong case can be made that there too many dancers are being trained to a professional level in this country in relation to the demand.<P>If the Studio Moderators feel that this discussion would be better there, then feel free to move it or ask one of the Admins to do it. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited February 12, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2001 4:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: Warrington, Cheshire, UK
Stuart, you raised some thought provoking questions, some of which I have something to add to!<P>You said '- the money may be spent for another purpose'<BR>I don't see money may be spent for another purpose if it is 'managed' the same way an academic student is given funding. <P>You said '- a school might be chosen that has unsafe premises or teaching methods, despite having a big name teacher.'<BR>Finding a school (accredited or independent) is a gamble either way. You are absolutely right that a 'big name teacher ' does not guarantee success, but neither does the number of toilets, or the size of the change room. <BR> <BR>You said '-Teenage dancers are more concerned with 'success' than health issues that could ruin their lives.'<BR>I don't believe any school is able to guarantee good health practices among its students. I think that it all depends on the character of the student . <P><BR>You said '- if the school was not accredited in some way, there is no indication that the taxpayer is getting value for money, which is a requirement for all such funding especially in the age of the Audit Commission.'<P>This is unfamiliar territory for me but aside from taxpayers value for money, I feel for the long term dance student packing shelves in Boots - we could debate the reasons why they are there of course. <P>You said 'I suspect that there would be too many successful exam candidates for the number of grants. In the case of boys in particular, I'm not sure whether the exams are relevant. I think the schools are more interested in ability that they can mould. '<P>Then why bother with dance exams at all? What do they measure if not ability?<BR>The same could be said about academic subjects, how many students go to pieces under exam conditions. Fact is, we have to have some sort of measure or starting point. The number of successful exam candidates depends on whether you are going to look at (for instance) only honours students or not. Academic students have to attain certain marks in certain subjects - why should dance be different?<P>You said 'dance people do not earn as much as the national average in most cases and do enough on a pro-bono basis as it is. It would be outrageous for the Government to ask dance professionals do carry out assessments voluntarily, even if such people could be found. <P>Their time would be voluntary, I'm all for payment, and costs would be way down compared to assessment of each school's curriculum, as is the current arrangement.<P>You said '-You are clearly unhappy with the current system that selects the schools which will receive grant places.'<P>I am just questioning the suitability of the system 'across the board'. It clearly works in high profile schools, I am not so sure (from experience) further down the list! <P><BR>You said '-A strong case can be made that there too many dancers are being trained to a professional level in this country in relation to the demand.'<P>We can look at this problem from another angle, why are so many foreign dancers being employed by English companies? Is it because they are better trained?<P> <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2001 6:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
This seems to me like a good discussion for "Issues".......


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 5:24 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Susie thanks for taking the trouble to give such a detailed response to Caroline's interesting idea.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we be funding the dancer rather than the school?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 5:28 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 54
Location: Warrington, Cheshire, UK
Susie,<BR>As a great admirer of your work with students, (especially liked 'your piece' in NYB's last performance) I was very interested in your response. <P>I can understand and accept a lot of what you are saying, but perhaps the vision is not always the reality. <P>As a parent, I have found that not enought is known about what to expect from full time vocational dance schools -across the board. <P>For instance, if a school prospectus is offering 'the highest level of classical ballet eduction', how would you evaluate that statement? If it was the RBS, you would have no problem, further down the line it gets more difficult...<P>An independent (BIG?) view on vocational dance training for parents would be most useful!<P><BR> <P>


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