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Your child got into dance school! Now, how to pay for it?
Date posted: 26 June 2018
It’s from this time of year People Dancing gets phone calls and emails from anxious parents wanting to support their children through dance training. Here our Director of Development Ruth Bates blogs on how these dreams, though expensive, can be made real.
People Dancing Director of Development Ruth Bates Lee with her son, Jamie

"Does People Dancing offer funding?” “Do you know where else we can get funding?” We get asked these questions a lot, especially over the second half of the summer. I’m afraid the answer to the first question is a big fat ‘NO’. Sorry. But we will try to help people with the second question.

So, if you’re looking to find the necessary readies to help your son, daughter or whomever take up a hard-won place on a dance or performing arts course, here are some funding avenues for you to explore:

College support
Before you get on the fundraising trail, first double check with the college where your child has been offered a place. They may well have information on how you can raise the funds you need. 

Trusts & foundations
There are very few trusts and foundations that will fund an individual to cover tuition fees or living costs. Yet it is still worth having a look as this will change year on year. Some funding search engines charge for usage so have a look at your local authority website or local Voluntary Action site, as they will often have a free portal you can use to search for funding.  Here’s an example of one local to us here in Leicester There are often hundreds of funding pots listed so make sure you use the search filters to avoid wasting time.

Local government
Depending on where you live your local authority may have access to funds that could support you with some of the additional expenses of sending a child to a performing arts college. For example, in addition to tuition fees and living expenses you will undoubtedly need uniform/specialist clothing and - for dance - shoes!

It’s worth speaking to someone in your local authority to see whether they have any funding opportunities. This is sometimes referred to as ‘ward funding’, so in the first instance find out the elected member for your local government ward and contact them directly with your request. Here is an example of a local councillor for Leicester City Make a compelling case for support - don’t just say you can’t afford the expense; explain how attending the course will benefit your child and what impact this will have on their future.

Local funders
In addition to using the search engine to find local trusts and foundations and making contact with your local councillor, you should also research charitable organisations such as The Rotary Club or The Lions Club. They may well have possible pots of funding that they distribute to local people to help them pursue their training ambitions. It is more likely they will want to support someone from their local community who is doing something positive. Again, make a compelling case to them about how their support will make a positive impact on a young person’s life.

Individual fundraising campaigns
You may also gain some success from setting up an individual fundraising campaign. This would involve you telling your fund raising story again but this time to people you know or people from your community, to persuade them to support your child in their educational endeavours. Make sure the story reflects the impact this training will have on your child and how any funding support will make a difference to their life. Get in touch with local media (press, online and radio) to help get your message out to a wider audience, as well as making good use of your social media networks.

Some top tips
It is unlikely you will raise all the money you need from one source, so:

Create a plan, have a sense of how much you need and how much you would like to get from each source
Make time to raise the money – it won’t happen overnight so be realistic about what you can achieve in the time that you have and plan ahead
Remember to thank everyone who responds to you 
And, if you are successful in raising some funds be sure to keep people informed of how their support is being used, send regular updates, photos etc. You never know, they may be open to putting their hand in their pocket again in the future! The idea of a longer term commitment may well appeal to them. 

So, good luck with your fundraising!

Ruth Bates
Director of Development, People Dancing

Ruth trained in dance and drama at the University of Roehampton and has worked across the dance sector for more than 20 years, supporting young people in training and developing opportunities for people to participate in dance in their communities. She has also worked as a fundraiser. Ruth (pictured with her son, Jamie, who appeared in the recent national tour of the stage production of Nativity) is also mum to an aspiring dancer/performer and understands how expensive and challenging it can be!

Top picture: People Dancing international conference, Glasgow 2017. Photo by Rachel Cherry.