Space for Learning

Performance-based and participatory activities

DCMS have provided updated guidance on how to resume singing, woodwind and brass playing indoors with mitigating measures. This advice is based on the results of a UK Government-commissioned study Perform and the study by SOBRADA which found the risks of Covid transmission for singing and playing are similar to those for speaking at a similar volume.

For activities that involve singing, playing wind or brass instruments the Department for Education suggests:

  • Sing in groups or play instruments outdoors wherever possible
  • If indoors use a room with as much space as possible (rooms with high ceilings are expected to enable dilution of aerosol transmission)
  • Ensure good ventilation
  • for singing, wind and brass playing allow at least 10l/s/person for all present, including audiences
  • observe social distancing
  • position pupils back-to-back or side-to-side when playing or singing (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • position wind and brass players so that the air from their instrument does not blow into another player.
  • keep background noise, including accompanying music low to stop performers rising their voices unduly
  • use microphones and do not share microphones, if possible
  • no physical correction by teachers or coaches and contact between pupils in dance and drama

Delivering performance-based and participatory activities

The Space for Learning Covid Secure working group, including colleagues working at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, compiled the guidance below.

They have draw on DCMS guidance for Performing Arts and Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities and guidance from the Department for Education: Guidance for full opening: schools and Protective measures for out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The following is some general advice about steps you can take to make any performance-based or participatory activities safer:

  • Avoid physical paperwork by bringing processes like bookings, permission slips, etc. online.
  • Programme workshops to avoid groups meeting when arriving or leaving, and so that practitioners work with as few different groups – and in as few different spaces – as possible.
  • Work outdoors if possible; if indoors, ensure adequate ventilation (see Adapting buildings section).
  • Ensure doors are left open when safe and feasible.
  • Schedule time between groups for thorough cleaning of space and toilets.
  • Reduce group sizes in line with HM Government guidance.
  • Ensure there is sufficient space for the facilitator and participants to practise social distancing from each other.
  • Keep groups in their ‘bubbles’ with the facilitator at social distance.
  • Consider if additional measures such as face coverings can or should be deployed if you can only keep the 1m+ distance between facilitator and participant bubble.
  • Adapt work to reduce physical contact and practise social distancing either between the facilitator and participants in a children’s group, or – if working with households or adults – between participants from different households.
  • Provide cleaning stations and ask participants to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser upon entry and exit.
  • Avoid or reduce use of props and ensure that any which are used are cleaned in between groups – or quarantined for 72 hours between uses.
  • Ensure members from different bubbles do not use the same toilets and lunch or rest spaces at the same time.
  • Provide scripts or other resources on-screen or ask participants to bring their own devices to view scripts and resources on.
  • Share Risk Assessments with schools and facilitators.
  • When work is taking place offsite, use a practitioner who is local to the school or venue to avoid unnecessary travel and accommodation (refer to DfE guidance regarding avoidance of class travel beyond walking distance). 

Case studies

The Preservative Party, the young curators based at Leeds City Museum, developed and delivered an exhibition on mental health during lockdown. 

Represent is a partnership programme with the Geraldine Connor Foundation, Ignite (a Kick the Dust project), Heritage Corner and Leeds Industrial Museum (part of Leeds Museums and Galleries) looking at exploring, retelling and reframing narratives within the museum collections. The programme began in October half term 2020, with socially distanced activities, discussions and debates. The young people involved were in ‘a bubble’, with staff socially distanced. The film shows everyone distanced, wearing masks and activity set up.