A DANCE teacher has spoken of the difficulties facing schools as the arts industry struggles to survive lockdown.

The government has pledged £1.57 billion of funding for the arts industry but Shona Loveday, a dance teacher at Julie Scott’s Academy of Performing Arts, said creative sector businesses are being forgotten about during the lockdown easing.

“I do feel that the arts have really been left behind,” said Shona.

“I don’t think the arts are classed as important as other things,” said the dance teacher who has been teaching at the Elgin-based school for 20 years.

“I think people still think working in the arts industry means you don’t have a proper job and are not bringing in enough revenue for the economy. But look at the West End.”

Shona was not hopeful the government’s new funding will find its way to local businesses.

“There are so many big organisations I’m not sure how that will touch upon small schools like ours,” she said.

“It’s awful to hear that previous students of ours are out of work. This pandemic is going to have a massive knock-on effect and it’s going to take a very long time for things to return to what they were like,” Shona said.

The school, which teaches students aged 18 months to adults, has been offering free online classes to pupils in an attempt to support them during the lockdown. These include jazz technique, limbering, freestyle as well as private lessons.

“We had loads of children who were struggling with their mental health,” said Shona.

“We have a lot of children from the Parks and Penhill areas whose parents won’t necessarily be able to afford to pay for online classes, especially now.

“We didn’t want any of the kids to be excluded from doing what they love because of financial difficulties,” she added.

Parents can make a voluntary contribution for the classes.

“It’s lovely to see all the children again, but I can’t be so thorough on corrections and with the time delay I don’t always see what’s happened on the screen,” Shona said.

She added that the blanket decision for dance schools to remain shut was not right.

“I feel gutted that you can go and sit in a pub, but you can’t go into a dance studio,” Shona said. “I don’t understand why they can’t do things on an individual basis. We have windows all down one wall of our studio which we could have open, we could tape the floor and use hand gel.

“It’s gutting that the arts haven’t been supported as much as other things, Shona added.

“Mental health for children, especially at a young age, is huge, and I really think taking away the normality of hobbies and keeping children fit, that should be more of a priority to sort out,” she said.