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Hunter Drama streamline online classes in response to COVID-19 shutdown

STRONG CONNECTION: Hunter Drama has launched online classes for its 400 students. Hunter Drama in High Definition is hoped to provide students a sense of 'normality and routine' during the pandemic. Pictures: Supplied
STRONG CONNECTION: Hunter Drama has launched online classes for its 400 students. Hunter Drama in High Definition is hoped to provide students a sense of 'normality and routine' during the pandemic. Pictures: Supplied

Performing arts academy Hunter Drama is a hub for creativity, a strength it has used in response to the coronavirus.

On Monday, the academy, which has studios in Broadmeadow, East Maitland, Singleton and Cessnock, launched Hunter Drama in High Definition which enables its 400 students to access regularly scheduled drama and musical theatre classes online.

"We've spent the last several days postponing major productions and rescheduling overseas tours which have been tough but necessary decisions," Hunter Drama founder and chief executive officer, Daniel Stoddart, said about the impact of impact of COVID-19.

"The next thing we had to address was our 400-plus students who participate in our drama and musical theatre classes every week. We needed a creative way to ensure we could deliver them their classes should schools and after school activities need to close.

"We wanted to be proactive to ensure our students don't miss out because we know for a lot of them, attending their weekly classes - and for many, it's several classes per week - is a major highlight of their week. If we go into self-imposed isolation, those children are going to crave a creative outlet and connectivity more than ever."

Online learning

Online learning

Hunter Drama in High Definition, also called HD in HD, will enable students to log into an online platform at the time their regular class would usually take place.

The students will be able to see their classmates on the screen of their computer or device. The class would be led by their regular teacher. The teacher will lead the students through exercises and games.

Students will also have time in the online class to share their work and progress, build characters and learn lines with their fellow young actors.

"It will provide our students and their families the opportunity to maintain some kind of normality and routine, doing the things they love and interacting with their friends in a positive online learning environment," Stoddart said.

"Many arts workers are suffering because of the mass gathering ban and they're unable to generate any income, meaning they simply cannot afford food and rent.

"HD in HD is a safe and innovative way to not only look after the well-being of our students during these uncertain times but it will also ensure our staff and tutors stay in work and are able to pay their bills.

"This specially designed distance learning platform is an example of how the arts have a positive impact on our social well-being.

"We're really excited to start the program because we think it may open up many other opportunities for learning to those who may not always be able to participate in classes face-to-face."

While many non-essential businesses and services such as pubs, clubs, cinemas and restaurants were closed by the federal and state government on Monday in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, schools remained open.

However, parents could choose to keep their children at home. Schools would move to distance learning for children that stayed home.

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