Arts centre extends commitment in removing barriers to engagement.
This year mac birmingham will be the first to stage ‘relaxed’ performances in Birmingham as part of their Christmas programme for families. Relaxed performances are aimed at audiences with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, a learning disability or for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Both shows Tall Stories: The Snow Dragon and New International Encounter (NIE): Hansel and Gretel will each offer a relaxed performance at 11am on 1st and 8th December respectively. This addition to mac’s Christmas programme is a further example of its commitment to reducing the barriers to arts and cultural activity, whilst at the same time ensuring the widest engagement across communities.
Working closely with Autism West Midlands in Edgbaston and the theatre companies involved, mac have taken measures to ensure the audiences attending relaxed performances have a positive experience, from booking their tickets, to entering the building, engaging with staff and finally the shows themselves. Measures include autism awareness training for front of house and technical staff and familiarisation visits with staff members and clients from Autism West Midlands. In terms of the performances themselves, each theatre company will make subtle changes to their productions to reduce anxiety. For example with Tall Stories: Snow Dragon, house lights will kept on at 30-50% and certain ‘excitable’ scenes will be toned down – so less shouting and rushing around.
Each family will also receive a visual story programme so they can familiarise themselves with mac’s building and theatre spaces as well as the content and characters in each play. Children will also be able to move freely within the space if needed, leaving or re-entering if needed. A chill out room will also be available before, during and after the performance if needed so that children have a space to unwind.
Louisa Davies, Performing Arts Producer at mac said: ‘We are very excited about the introduction of relaxed performances to our Christmas programme. The commitment to broadening the offer to a wider audience is an organisational decision. We recognise at mac that families are diverse and sometimes complex, however this should not be a barrier to their engagement with the arts. We believe wholeheartedly that the artsis for everyone as it can and does change lives. Our relaxed performances – which as far as we’re aware are the first to be performed in Birmingham – will go some way to providing an experience that many of us take for granted.’
Lucy Andrews from Autism West Midlands added: “We have been working closely with mac and the theatre companies to advise them on how best to address the needs of those on the Autistic Spectrum. People with autism and their families can sometimes struggle to find activities they can enjoy together as a family that do not make them feel self-conscious or anxious that certain behaviours exhibited by their children will be frowned upon. Relaxed performances are a great way for people with autism and their families to experience theatre, opening up the arts to people who may not otherwise feel able to attend. Autism West Midlands is thrilled that mac have chosen to engage with new audiences in this way.”
mac’s relaxed performances take place on the following dates:
- Tall Stories: The Snow Dragon – 11am, Sunday 1st December (ages 3+).
- NIE: Hansel and Gretel – 11am, Sunday 8th December (ages 5+).
General performances of both shows take place on the following dates:
- Tall Stories: The Snow Dragon, Tuesday 26th November-Sunday 8th December
- NIE: Hansel and Gretel, Tuesday 3rd December-Saturday 14th December
Tickets, priced from £10 are available from mac birmingham at www.macarts.co.uk or by calling the Sales and Information desk on 0121 446 3232.