‘Safety rules are driving young performers away’
Children are turning away from amateur dramatics due to strict safeguarding rules that make them “feel like prisoners”, a drama coach has warned.
While accepting the need to keep youngsters safe, Tudor Price thinks the regulations, which require young performers to be escorted by a chaperone wherever they go back stage, are now in danger of going too far.
Mr Price, who regularly directs Wateringbury’s annual pantomime at the village hall, in Bow Road, said: “We only had four young performers this year.
“They’re fed up with being shut up in the changing room the whole time and escorted everywhere.”
Mr Price said the regulations were also imposing a heavy burden on theatre groups who had to find sufficient trained responsible adults willing to act as chaperones.
He said: “In one scene in our Camelot panto this year, our four child actors had to leave from four different points on the stage.
“That meant we had to have four adults waiting in the wings to meet them as they must all be escorted the moment they leave the stage.”
Each chaperone has to undergo a web-based training programme before they can be approved.
Under the Child Performance Regulations, drama and performance groups in Kent have to apply to Kent County Council for a Body Of Persons Approval (BOPA) and may be subject to an unannounced inspection at any time during rehearsal or performance to ensure their safeguarding procedures are being adhered to.
Mr Price said: “I had one absurd example, where a child came on stage in rehearsal and realised he’d left his trumpet in the changing room.
“I couldn’t just send him back to get it. We had to wait for a chaperone to escort him.
“It’s putting kids off – they tell me they feel like prisoners.”
Sandra Ramsey, the owner of the JAG Dance Academy in Campbell Road, Maidstone, said it was sometimes difficult to find chaperones, but welcomed the legislation.
She said: “Things have got tighter in the past couple of years, but it is essential that the safety and well being of our young performers is our first concern.”
Tudor Price regularly directs Wateringbury’s annual pantomime at the village hall