Press release

New laws to help children's talents shine

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Brand new laws come into force today, changing when children can take part in public performance.

Whether they are treading the boards in a local drama production or taking up a starring role in a film or TV show, children will have more freedom to participate in public performances following new laws that come into effect today (6 February 2015). The laws overhaul a system of outdated and confusing rules, and will nurture and support stars of the future while keeping them safe and rested.

Until today, child performers were hampered by restrictive and complicated rules, such as a limit to how many performances they could take part in during a single day or when they can perform, meaning they could often miss out on exciting opportunities to show off their talents. For example, a young Cosette taking a starring turn in ‘Les Miserables’ would be able to perform in the show but would be denied the chance to take part in the accompanying photo shoot with the cast.

The changes will keep important safeguards in place to ensure children are kept safe and fully rested.

Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson, said:

As a proud dad who can often be found in the audience cheering on his children, I know that taking part in a local dance production or performing on a West End stage can be hugely rewarding, helping to build important confidence, teamwork and communication skills that can propel them into adult life and success - no matter what their career plan.

Yet too often in the past, children have missed out on rewarding opportunities - like giving a star turn in a show but being denied the chance to take part in the curtain call due to unnecessary barriers and restriction.

These new simplified rules will encourage children to chase their dreams, while keeping them safe and rested, helping all aspiring actors, singers and dancers showcase their talents both now and in the future.

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, children’s TV champion, said:

I am thrilled that the revised Child Performance and Activities legislation comes into force today in England. This follows on from the changes we secured to the Children and Families Act in 2014, and will enable children to fully benefit from a range of opportunities to perform in a safe environment, boosting their confidence and development.

I am also pleased that the sector has worked together to provide best practice examples in order to improve consistency and standards.

The old rules also meant that children under the age of 13 couldn’t be licensed to take part in a performance after 7pm if the performance was filmed for broadcast, meaning a budding Matilda would have to retire to the dressing room before the evening show began if it was to be shown on television.

From today, the new rules will:

  • replace the complex restrictions on the hours children can perform with a single set of limits, based on age groups, that cover all types of performances
  • scrap the limit on the type of performances children can take part in over a single day or a week
  • strengthen the number of breaks children must have during performances, making sure children get adequate rest

There will also be a greater emphasis on ensuring young performers are able to wind down and rest overnight.

The government has also today published new guidance for local authorities and amateur groups on how to implement the new rules. The National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) is also publishing examples of best practice on how to support child performers while keeping them safe.

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