Covid-19 has been the demise of many businesses as the ongoing lockdowns continue.
A forgotten industry… hardship for hundreds of small businesses.
The effects on dancing schools and the wider community has left owners struggling to pay subcontractors, without any access to financial assistance.
Tania Sibon-Bourke, Director of Ambiance Dance, said Corona Virus has effected them in two ways – one positive, and one negative.
Ms Sibon-Bourke said it’s been so positive seeing all local dance studio owners come together and help each other; conducting meetings online in a Facebook group to collaborate on what’s next their businesses.
However, she said no one ever saw this coming which applied a lot of stress in a short period of time, with the need to diversify extremely quickly.
“The Federal Government stood up on Sunday Night and officially closed our business in an industry that doesn’t even exist,” Ms Sibon-Bourke said.
“I know the major message at the end of the day is stay home and make sure we control this virus, but we need something to come back to… kids need something to come back to…”
“So all of us that have lost our jobs, it’s no good just pretending we don’t exist, because we do.”
The lack of financial support at this time for what is a forgotten industry is dire.
Ms Sibon-Bourke talked through the various phone calls made to her accountant, and the letters written to Parliament.
She said if only the Government could understand that sole traders exist, and actually employ other sole traders, then maybe they could understand our business model.
“We’re not a gym, we’re not a pilates studio, we’re not a sport and recreation centre… We’re a private business that runs dance classes and fitness classes for adults. It doesn’t fall under the sport and recreation award,” she explained.
“But instead, they do not see us, they do not hear us…”
Ms Sibon-Bourke and other teachers in the same position have been told to apply for the dole.
This proves difficult when you have to pay rent on a commercial building, and keep up paying your 10 teachers’ wages.
To help get an understanding of the Federal Guidelines, as dancing schools operate in a niche industry that “doesn’t exist”, Ms Sibon-Bourke rang the Small Business Association, but was re-directed to call on the local council.
There has been various threats of fines coming from local councils to many dancing school owners around WA, with each council holding a different opinion as to how these business should progress.
Postings in the Facebook group for WA Studio Owners outline the confusion:
“You’ve got certain councils advising against entering the building and fines will be issued if you’re found to be taking classes,”
“Then you’ve got another council member saying you’re entitled to have 10 people in the studio to film online content…”
Ms Sibon-Bourke said the message is so unclear.
“To offer no support financially and to change the message continuously, the pressure just becomes too much when we’re trying to offer continuity for the students and also the staff,”
There is overwhelming support within the dancing community, with calls to the Premier to not be left behind.
Studio owners, including Ms Sibon-Bourke, would like to see the dance industry regulated and to be heard.
“Maybe if we were in a regulated industry they wouldn’t have forgotten about us?”
“They think they’ve got an understanding of all the different business entities, but they actually dont,”
Premier Mark McGowan responded to WAMN News on this issue, saying they’ll be doing more work to support small and medium size business and people across the community in need.
Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
For now, dancing schools have shifted all their weekly classes online, pushing forward as best they can.
Ms Sibon-Bourke commends her amazing team of teachers and is thankful for the continued support of her students.