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OnOff Stage

Now that the Easter bunnies have settled back into a regime of benign neglect it's safe to say that the hols are well and truly over. To soften the blow of the return to normality, first there's some good news. London Arts Board and Education Extra, the national charity which promotes after-school activities, have jointly launched a new award scheme to encourage London schools to offer extra-curricular arts activities.

The one-off Extra Arts Awards offer schools up to Pounds 500 to pay fees to professional artists or tutors brought in to develop existing activities or set up new ones. Open to all publicly funded schools, the activities can include drama, dance, singing, writing and storytelling, and photography. For further information, contact the London Arts Board's public affairs department on 0171 240 1313 or Mike Walton at Education Extra on 0181 983 1061.

The bad news is that it is becoming more and more difficult for young people to get grants for drama school. According to new research carried out by the Conference of Drama Schools, one in five local authorities have stopped giving discretionary awards to drama students. This amounts to only 34 per cent of local authorities around the country providing the awards today, as opposed to 83 per cent in 1987. The deterioration in the situation has led to a particularly robust outcry from Tory backbenchers as well as from high profile figures like Sir Anthony Hopkins, Lord Attenborough and David Puttnam, the last three of whom have thrown their weight behind a campaign for a fair system of grants for drama students. To obtain more information about the research survey and the campaign, contact Mark Pemberton, CDS Information Officer based at Mountview Theatre School on 0181 340 5885.

There are few more delicious sights than watching a dinner hall full of primary school children scurrying around being faeries in A Midsummer Night's Dream or toiling and troubling over an imaginary cauldron in Macbeth. This term, they'll have the opportunity of hamming it up in Hamlet with the English Shakespeare Company's national touring primary project. The two-stage programme consists of an in-school drama workshop led by two ESC actors, followed by a theatre visit to watch a specially adapted hour-long version of the play. Among the regions visited are London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Cardiff, southeast England and the west country. For further information, contact the ESC Education Department on 0181 967 3961.

Dundee Rep Theatre has launched a service unique in the UK: a full-time resident dramatherapist is based at the theatre offering free treatment to people with mental health problems, including dementia.

Funded by the Scottish Office's Mental Illness Specific Grant, the therapist, Genevieve Smyth, offers individual sessions and group work as well as in-service training for voluntary and statutory professionals and awareness-raising events. She is hoping in the future to link up with a local TIE company with the aim of going into schools and adult training centres. For more information, ring Genevieve on 01382 205411.

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