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C'mon Kiwis, give Holly a hand

C'mon Kiwis, give Holly a hand

Green Arts Spokesperson Mike Ward is calling on New Zealand to support a promising young ballet dancer.

Despite a hip problem, 16-year-old Holly Sheffield of Auckland has already achieved so much in international ballet competitions that she has been accepted by the Elmhurst School of Dance in London. However, her family cannot find the financial assistance needed to get her to the UK or to pay her fees, despite many applications to public funders and private sponsors.

"If Holly were an athlete presented with an equivalent opportunity there would be commercial sponsors and universities lining up with scholarships, but for artists it is all uphill," Mr Ward says. "Holly's is a remarkable tale of achievement and dedication. She is from a one-parent, no-car, home-schooled family. They have run barbeques, busked and sold chocolates to scrape the money together to allow her to achieve what she has managed so far.

"Question is, how much does one young person have to do to demonstrate her commitment, ability and drive before someone will provide the kind of support necessary to make it? While this Government has shown a real commitment to the arts, there is still a very real gap when it comes to nurturing our most talented young artists and performers. We all delight in and are inspired by the achievements of talented New Zealanders, but their abilities and commitment needs to be backed up by more than our pride," Mr Ward says.

In a letter to MPs, Holly's mother Carol Sheffield says: "...[she] is about to represent NZ in the Genee (Olympics of Ballet) and has been accepted into a world-renowned ballet school to study in Britain.... Holly is leaving on 28/8/05 with only $3000 of her entry fee paid and $5700 still owing that must be paid within the next five weeks and no money whatsoever towards her first-term fees.

"...she has achieved all this after being born with a hip abnormality ...[she was] regularly through the public health [system] until age two-and-a-half years. She broke her leg immediately upon beginning to walk. Developed a bone tumour at only 10 years old in the same leg which didn't heal for four years. She made her reappearance on the ballet scene at 14 years and achieved all she has in only two years!

"As a Genee Finalist she was one of the eight best girls in the world in Athens 2004, as well as her achievements at the Prix de Lausanne 2005 (Switzerland). She has been awarded Solo Seal, the Highest International Ballet award and... was offered places in a number of world-renowned British ballet schools without having to audition. She chose Elmhurst ballet school and now requires $75,000 (fees and living, includes everything) for the first year and $66,000 for the following year. [We have] ...been a one-parent family for 14 years. She has raised every cent of her ballet costs herself...

"Her brothers who have been busking for her, [but] are banned now from busking. [They] are talented pianists [so] went to New York where they were to appear on Good Morning America... though unfortunately before they could appear... they were deported and we still don't know why! The Council has also informed us that we are not allowed to continue to put on fundraiser BBQs and so we are now also selling fundraising chocolates to raise $75,000!"

ENDS

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