Lottery funds fail to reach dance students

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Four out of ten dance and drama students are still unable to proceed with their courses because of lack of cash, despite a national scheme.

A survey to be published next week by the National Campaign for the Arts, an independent pressure group, shows massive regional variations in the financial help given to dance and drama students by local councils.

The Arts Council scheme launched five months ago pledged National Lottery money to top up discretionary grants for students provided the local education authority (LEA) gave the student funding of pounds 1,250.

The National Campaign for the Arts complained at the time that the pounds 1,250 figure was too high and would deter LEAs from taking part in the scheme. The survey of 131 English local authorities shows that 40 per cent of them have not signed up to the Arts Council initiative.

The scheme, much publicised and praised six months ago, was to be the first step in ending the anomaly whereby dance and drama students receive discretionary grants from their local authorities while music and art students receive mandatory awards.

The survey shows that students in the North have the worst deal. In the Northern region of local authorities only four out of 15 give grants; in Yorkshire/Humberside four out of 11 do so; in the North-west the figure is seven out of 17; in the West Midlands it is five out of 12; in the South-west four out of nine; in London it is 22 out of 33; in the South it is eight out of 11; in the East Midlands it is nine out of 12; in the South-east four out of five; and in the Eastern region six out of six.

Jennifer Edwards, director of the NCA, said: "This looks to be particularly bad luck for talented young dancers and actors in the North. There is great regional variation. Any dance or drama student living in the Eastern region has the chance of getting a grant. At the other end of the scale almost three-quarters of local education authorities in the Northern region give no grants at all." An Arts Council spokeswoman said: "We are monitoring the situation. We will wait to study the figures and we will review it after that.The scheme has certainly helped access for more dance and drama students."

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