Best practice in digital accessibility

A woman in a wheelchair in a corridor
10 Jul 2024

The Space has convened an Accessibility Working Group to support the sector to work in more inclusive and accessible ways. One of its first outputs has been to provide a pool of knowledge on best practice in digital accessibility, as Harmeet Chagger-Khan explains.

Peace Museum moves to new location

21 Jun 2024

Bradford's Peace museum will reopen in a new location in August, it has been announced.

The Telegraph and Argus reports that the museum has been based in the city centre since it opened in 1994, but from August 10, it will move to Salts Mill in Saltaire, giving it a larger space to showcase its collection while improving accessibility.

A museum spokesperson said: “The National Lottery Heritage Fund's support, made possible by National Lottery players, has enabled the creation of a new engaging and accessible exhibition and educational programmes.

“Generous capital funding from Bradford 2025 and Bradford City Council has allowed us to turn an unused piece of the district’s history back into life.

“We would also like to thank Key Fund, Art Fund, Association of Independent Museums, Pilgrim Trust, Museum Development North, and Arts Council England, who have all helped to make our move and reopening possible.

“The Peace Museum’s reopening is just the beginning of what will be an exciting and ambitious next chapter.”
 

English Touring Opera to relocate to Sheffield 

A production shot from English Touring Theatre
30 May 2024

Organisation becomes sixth taking part in Arts Council England's Transfer Programme to announce plans to relocate with 18 yet to publicly confirm a move ahead of October deadline.

Theatre accessibility for hearing aid users

Open access smart capture glasses
29 May 2024

The National’s Head of Access David Bellwood explains how the theatre prioritises accessibility, working with manufacturers and deploying the latest technology to ensure the best possible experience for theatregoers with hearing loss.

Theatres Trust awards small grants to 24 venues

29 Apr 2024

More than £100,000 in grants will be split between 24 theatres across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales through the Theatres Trust Small Grants Programme.

The scheme, run with The Linbury Trust, funds projects with up to £5,000 to improve the resilience, sustainability, or accessibility of theatres by making building improvements.

Recipients of the latest round of funding include Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Almeida Theatre in London, Blackpool Grand Theatre, Colchester Arts Centre, Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Scotland, Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle and The Welfare Ystradgynlais in Swansea.

Jon Morgan, Theatres Trust Director, said: "Theatres Trust is delighted to be able to support more theatres with small projects to make a big impact to their sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity, as well as vital maintenance projects. 

"This is the largest round of this scheme to date, with the high number and wide range of projects demonstrating the demand for investment in the UK’s theatre buildings to ensure they are fit for current and future audiences."

Drama school hopes to 'shift the dial' by axing audition fees

The Central School of Speech and Drama, Eton Avenue, NW3 pictured 2011
29 Apr 2024

Central School of Speech and Drama is scrapping a £40 audition fee for its undergraduate acting degree.

English Heritage to offer food bank users free days out

28 Mar 2024

English Heritage and the Trussell Trust have announced a new initiative to provide free days out for people who access food banks. 

Following a successful pilot scheme last summer, people on the lowest incomes will be able to receive a voucher for a free visit to their local English Heritage site alongside their emergency food parcel.

More than 100 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust network and 25 English Heritage properties across England will be taking part in the 2024 partnership. 

English Heritage sites participating in the 2024 scheme include Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Osborne—Queen Victoria’s seaside home—on the Isle of Wight, Corbridge Roman Town on Hadrian’s Wall, and Clifford’s Tower in York.

Nick Merriman, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “As a charity, one of our key aims is to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the great historic sites in our care. 

"And although we’ve seen our visitor and member numbers increase, we know that for some, the opportunity of a day out is simply out of reach. 

"We’re really delighted to be teaming up with the Trussell Trust to help those who are often most in need of some time out with their family and friends.”

The offer will be valid until 3 November 2024 and is available to anyone receiving emergency food and support from one of the participating Trussell Trust food banks.

Frazer speaks out against theatre trigger warnings

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer
21 Feb 2024

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says theatre audiences should be 'treated in an adult way' despite campaigners insisting that trigger warnings are an important tool for improving accessibility.

West Yorkshire launches access scheme for cultural venues

Mayor West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin speaking at an event
21 Feb 2024

The initiative is the first of a raft of measures that form a £2.3m support package for West Yorkshire’s creative sector.

Meet the childhood friends transforming access to creative careers

Mae Yip and Samantha Hornsby
15 Jan 2024

Sam Hornsby and her best friend Mae Yip were sick of seeing young people experience the same lack of access to the creative industries they went through 20 years ago. So they did something about it.

Royal Court creates ‘democratic’ digital archive

Four Royal Court production images showing August for the People, Seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner, Look back in anger and Blest be the tie
28 Nov 2023

Spearheaded by Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, the Living Archive contains information on every Royal Court production.

Taking up the fight for regional opera

Production image of Cinderella, Norwich Theatre
15 Nov 2023

After Glyndebourne Opera cancelled its schedule of regional touring for 2023, Norwich Theatre’s Stephen Crocker was inundated with calls from disappointed audience members. 

Buying a ticket shouldn’t be a performance

Exterior of Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Wales
07 Nov 2023

Andrew Miller recently spent hours trying to book a ticket but, with the rollout of a new access scheme, he hopes his travails and those of other people with disabilities will soon be over. 

ACE outlines plans for disability access scheme

The new website for the All In access initiative
07 Nov 2023

Access scheme for disabled audiences will launch next year, based on the existing Hynt access card initiative already up and running across Wales.

British Museum digitises collection to prevent thefts

18 Oct 2023

The British Museum has announced plans to digitise its collection in response to the stolen artefacts scandal that has embroiled the institution.

A five-year plan to digitise the museum’s collection and make it available online will help “improve security”, according to the museum's Interim Director, Sir Mark Jones.

Appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Wednesday (18 October) he said:  “It is my belief that the single most important response to the thefts is to increase access because the better a collection is known - and the more it is used - the sooner any absences are noticed.

"So that's why, rather than locking the collection away, we want to make it the most enjoyed, used and seen in the world.”

The process of digitising the collection is already underway and involves the uploading or upgrading of 2.4 million records. 

The British Museum’s Chair of Trustees, George Osborne, said the organisation had been “victims of an inside job” when around 2,000 items from its collection were revealed to be missing in August, leading to the dismissal of a Senior Curator. 

“There are lots of lessons to be learnt," said Osbourne. "We have changed our whistleblowing code, changed our policy on thefts... tightened up security on thefts." 

The museum has also announced plans for enhanced access to study rooms, where members of the public and academics can view items from the collection by appointment.

Osbourne revealed that the museum will acknowledge the thefts in an exhibit of the missing items, 350 of which have been recovered so far. 

Disabled and starting out?

A ballet dancer leaning into a red shoe handing from a tree in front of her
27 Sep 2023

Unlimited provides roles for disabled people in the arts, starting at entry level. Jo Verrent reflects on her first job in the cultural sector and what she learnt from it. 

Guide launched to help describe artworks for blind people

25 Sep 2023

A new describing art guide aims to support art galleries and museums to make their collections more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

The guide was launched by Sight Loss Councils (SLC) and funded by the Thomas Pocklington Trust. It was developed by East Sussex SLC in collaboration with Zoom Arts and Royal Collection Trust.

“Blind and partially sighted people also enjoy accessing art and museums. However, this can often be inaccessible to us,” said Iris, a member of East Sussex SLC and a volunteer.

“This is why we are working alongside arts organisations to make this happen. 

“We hope that our resource will enable staff to better understand how they can describe art with confidence to someone with sight loss and that it’ll break down some of the barriers about communicating with blind and partially sighted people.”

She hopes the guide will encourage galleries and museums to actively promote their ability to offer audio described tours.

Amy Stocker, Access and Inclusion Manager for Royal Collection Trust, said the resource “should make people much more confident when communicating with blind and partially sighted people”.

“Hopefully this means more vision impaired people will have access to art and engaging with arts and culture,” she added.

Accessibility IPSO relocates under ACE transfer scheme

Live subtitled tour guide image at Wellcome Collection
07 Sep 2023

Stagetext says its move to Colchester will allow it to improve access to arts and culture across the South East.

How do you get into dance?

Boys performing as part of ManMade, an all male youth dance platform at ZoieLogic Dance Theatre 2019.
06 Sep 2023

Zoie Golding and Ollie Webb are 20 years apart in age and experience. Coming from backgrounds where a career in dance would be unlikely, they have taken unconventional routes into the industry, as Rowena Price discovered.

Theatre careers programme to improve access and diversity

17 Aug 2023

A partnership between Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and charity Get Into Theatre is launching a nationwide programme to improve access to jobs and increase diversity in theatre.

The scheme, Work in Theatre, will take place across 15 ATG venues and offer digital activities through Get Into Theatre’s website.
 
The year-long project, funded by Arts Council England, aims to reach more than 30,000 young people and will focus on three strands of work: work experience, a teacher conference, and emerging artist commissions.

Get Into Theatre Director Alex Duarte-Davies said getting young people who want to build a career in theatre through those physical doors “can often be a daunting challenge”. 

“This collaboration with ATG will see those doors opened wide and ensure that young people from all backgrounds are given the same opportunities to ‘get into theatre’. 

“It is a step in breaking down those barriers between education and industry, to ensure that the future of the sector is both representational and accessible.”

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