A House of Commons committee has asked the government to look into ways in which dance can be used to improve the health of the nation. The recommendation is one of a number contained in the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee?s report into the current state of dance in England. The report also acknowledges a history of ?boom-bust funding? within dance?, observing that dance organisations have become overly dependant on central funding and need to do more to attract commercial sponsorship and local authority support.
Arts Minister Estelle Morris has been asked to deliver a strategy outlining the government?s agenda for dance within the next three months. In response to the committee, Estelle Morris observed that the government had a three-pronged approach to dance: ?excellence, access and the contribution to healthy living.?
Evidence submitted to the committee on the healthy living issue diverged. Many practitioners were determined to see dance maintained as an ?artform? in addition to being termed a ?physical activity?. However, the report suggests that the government should use participation in dance as a tool to tackle the growing problem of obesity and to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly among children and the elderly. It recommends that dance organisations should be supported in this endeavour by sports and health funding and that the Department for Education and Skills should review the place of dance within the National Curriculum. Further proposals include liaison between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to ensure dedicated dance facilities are included in new planning developments, and that more research should be carried out into the possible benefits of dance in reducing crime rates.