HC Deb 19 December 2003 vol 416 cc59-60W
Dr. Kumar

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assistance is available to children from low income families who wish to pursue careers in the performing arts; and what the most recent figures are for regional uptake. [144744]

Mr. Miliband

Through the Music and Dance Scheme, the Department is providing significant means-tested support for over 800 exceptionally talented children aged eight and over at eight independent specialist schools in England. Around one in five families using the scheme are entitled to full remission of fees because of the level of their incomes. Figures for the regional take-up of places are not collected centrally although we are aware of regional disparities in provision. To help address those disparities we are seeking to develop the scheme, over time, by introducing non-residential complementary models to serve as focal points in regions currently poorly served.

The Dance and Drama Awards are national scholarships for students aged 16 and above and are offered on the basis of talent demonstrated at open audition. Over 60 per cent. of students with these awards have an annual family income of less than £20k.

There is a range of other assistance available, notably through the national youth music organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and through Arts Council England supported programmes such as the National Youth Theatre and through Creative Partnerships. Many Local Education Authority Music Services also provide assistance.