Widening access – one event at a time

We all know that access to the arts is important – how else to do you widen audiences, extend impact and quite frankly justify public funding? Humankind isn’t just made up of people who perceive the world in one way, however much we try and pretend they do.

It’s in this environment that we are really pleased to link up with Brighton Dome, on the lead up to their annual festival – Brighton Festival (2 – 24 May). The festival has really reached out in relation to programming disability product this year which includes Unlimited’s Backstage in Biscuit Land by Touretteshero, Give me a reason to live, by Claire Cunningham (who was recently awarded an Unlimited commission for her new work ‘The Way you Look at Me Tonight‘) and Bill and Bobby by Stopgap Dance Company.

Our work with them looks at accessible performances – in particular, how you engage and attract a specific audience that perhaps you’ve not served as well as you could have in the past. What do you do to let them know about what you have on offer and to strike up a real relationship so that you can get genuine and supportive feedback?

Last week we met with our Brighton-based Access Consultant Jayne Earnscliffe and Festival Producer Tanya Peters to discuss access plans and drool over this years programme. The real meat of the conversation was very much about establishing these relationships – where people feel valued and respected (which isn’t always about a financial transaction).

There are a number of accessible performance / event options as part of Brighton Festival this year (see here), and with our support they are particularly interested in broadening its visually impaired audience this time round.

There will be audio described performances for The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler Saturday 16 May at 2.30pm and The Vast White Stillness (Sold Out) Saturday 9 May at 3pm, plus touch tours of Ear Trumpet Saturday 16 May at 11.15am and Britten Sinfonia Tuesday 12 May at 6.45pm – plus there are a host of things that focus on sound/auditory elements which might be of interest. If you are interested in any of this, do drop Jayne a line – jayne@earnscliffe.co.uk and see if you can get involved.

Of course, there are lots of other access performances too this year – seven with BSL interpretation by Sue MacLaine and their first relaxed performance with Backstage in Biscuit Land. We’ll be working with the festival and the Dome for a couple of months to see what hints and tips we can gather about widening audiences – watch this space for a catch up soon…

To find out more about this year’s festival click here

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