News: Candoco Foundation Course faces closure

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Candoco Dance Company’s Foundation Course in Dance for Disabled Students is likely to close at the end of this academic year as the Learning and Skills Council has announced that it will not be renewing its funding to support the course.

Whilst many institutions have dance courses that are accessible to students with disabilities, the Candoco course is unique, in that it is solely for disabled participants and offers a fulltime year of specialist training, preparing them to go on to further dance training or employment in dance.

The company are lobbying for support for the course and looking for alternative sources of funding but so far without success. Course Director, Susie Cox said: “The Foundation Course is the only course of its kind in the world and a unique opportunity for aspiring disabled dance students. Until the course was established, there was no clear point of access for disabled dancers who were aiming to progress to a professional career in dance. The value of the course is enormous: for its current dance students, for future generations of disabled dancers, and for the wider dance world by providing a base for research into teaching methods in the UK and abroad.”

Since the Foundation Course started in 2004, student intake has increased significantly each year – by 18% in 2005/6 and by 36% in 2006/07. All students have graduated successfully, with half of them moving onto further training in dance or the performing arts and the other half moving straight into employment.

Students currently on the course appeared as part of the Connect Festival at Sadler’s Wells this week. Jessie is one of them. She gave a heartfelt tribute to the quality of the experience she is gaining: “The Foundation Course has offered me high quality training, the space to discover who I am as a dancer and the confidence to not only take my dancing skills into the professional realm, but my voice too. I have had the opportunity this year to work with some incredible people, partake in classes at both The Place and Laban, and build relationships with other disabled dancers. These experiences have boosted my self-confidence and given me a place to belong.”

Trevor Fellowes, the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC’s) Director of Learner Support said:
“The CandoCo Foundation Course was one of three flexible provision projects set up by the DfES in 2004. These pilot projects were designed to test out different ways of offering training to disabled performers.

“In September 2005, the LSC – now responsible for the Dance and Drama Awards – indicated to CandoCo that they would be changing the way they deliver training for disabled students from September 2007 focusing more on embedding the drive to widen participation within the Dance and Drama Awards themselves. CandoCO will now be receiving funding from the LSC for a specific dance project for disabled students, jointly with the Urdang Academy.

“The LSC is not ceasing to fund projects to improve access and inclusion for disabled students within the Awards. Instead, this new approach is intended to increase the numbers of disabled students and students from a wider range of backgrounds auditioning for and being offered Dance and Drama Awards”.

If you would like to help Candoco raise awareness about the course closure, send your letter of support to Susie Cox, Foundation Course Director: susie@candoco.co.uk

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