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Further decline in number of children taking part in theatre and dance

Students from Central on a placement with school children. Photo: Alan Hamer Students from Central on a placement with school children. Photo: Alan Hamer
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The number of children taking part in theatre and dance activities is continuing to fall, new government figures have found.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s annual Taking Part survey for children also found dance and drama had the biggest gender disparity among children engaging with the art forms.

Overall, 98% of five to 15-year-olds engaged with the arts in 2015/16, the report claims. However, numbers for specific genres including theatre, music and dance, have decreased.

In 2015/16, 31.3% of children aged between five and 10 years old took part in theatre and drama activities, a drop from 32.3% in 2014/15.

The figures for 11 to 15-year-olds participating in drama fell from 68.8% in 2014/15 to 65% in 2015/16.

Of this figure, 35.8% took part in theatre activities during school time only, with 20.7% taking part at school and at home, and 8.5% engaging with theatre exclusively outside school time.

The trend for theatre and drama among children is of continuing decline, the study shows, and is particularly marked for five to 10-year-olds, with a drop of 16 percentage points in theatre activity since 2008/2009.

In dance, the number of children between the ages of five and 15 taking part also dropped by 16 percentage points over the same period, with further decreases also found within the past year.

While 75.8% of girls took part in theatre activities, only 54.7% of boys did the same. Just 56% of girls aged 11 to 15 engaged with dance in 2015/16, compared with 16.7% of boys.

This contrasts with differences of just four percentage points for computer activities, eight percentage points for arts and crafts and less than one percentage point for film and video activities.

Overall increases were seen, in both age groups, for film and video activities, while the percentage of children participating in reading and writing activities remained the highest of all art forms.

This was followed by arts and craft activities, for children aged five to 10, and film and video activities, for those aged 11 to 15.

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