Music, dance and other creative arts teachers are urging the Government to allow them to reopen their studios once the country returns to level three restrictions. The move comes after the sector suffered another blow, with private schools across the country being told there would be “no extracurricular arts activities” past level two.
Sile Ni Dhubhghaill is the founder of Lee Valley Academy of Music in Macroom, where she teaches about 150 students — a task not made easy by the lockdowns. The school reopened in September, with “major safety measures.” However, it has now been told it will have to close under level five and will have to remain that way until the country is at level two.
“The Department of Arts came out with one of these charts of what you can do in each level, and they said no extracurricular arts activities at levels three or four. We have exams coming up, prepping students for Junior Cert and Leaving Cert practicals. I don't see why is not seen as education just because we're a private school.”
The music teacher also questioned the disparity between how the arts and how sports are treated.
“I know sport is really important for kids' physical and mental health. But I can’t see why you can go to a match with one full team against another full team, but you can't go to a piano lesson on your own. There are kids who aren't into sport. What about them?” she asked.
Ms Ni Dhubhghaill says this latest problem is part of wider narrative, which has seen the arts sector left feeling unappreciated, particularly through the lockdown, a move she feels the country will regret in the future.
Music isn’t the only affected medium. Lucy French, who runs the Lucy French School Of Dance in Kinsale, Co Cork says that as part of the Irish Ballet Teachers' Association, she has been campaigning for the Government to allow them to return to the studio once the country is back at level three.
“We are a very socially-distanced art form as it is. What's happening now is that we are denying the children what they love to do. And I don't think that's a fair thing to do, for their physical, emotional and mental health. I don't think we should be punishing the children. We have had no Covid cases in any ballet school in the country, there has been not one.”