In defence of trigger warnings

Sign saying: Trigger Warning - Explicit Content
12 Feb 2024

The colossal efforts to advance and champion diversity and accessibility in the sector are undermined by negative press criticising the use trigger warnings before shows. But, as Fiona Moon argues, they should be viewed no differently from accessible seats or toilets. 

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.

Deaf pupils to receive Shakespeare resources

08 May 2024

Teaching resources to make Shakespeare more accessible for deaf students are being sent to all deaf schools in the UK.

The British Theatre Guide reports that the teaching packs are part of the Signing Shakespeare project - a partnership between the University of Birmingham and the Royal Shakespeare Company - which began in May last year.

Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall, Deputy Director of Education and Associate Professor in Shakespeare and Theatre at the Shakespeare Institute, part of the University of Birmingham, said: "There are more than 50,000 deaf children in the UK and Shakespeare is the only named author that all children are required to study in the National Curriculum. 

"But the fact is there aren’t many resources for deaf students studying Shakespeare in school.

“Signing Shakespeare is an educational resource programme which brings together visual and active learning for the study of Macbeth so we can try to address this gap between the teaching provision for hearing and deaf students in school.”

Music-making programme for disabled children extended

A young person playing a clarinet
17 Apr 2024

The OHMI Music-Makers programme will now be available for schools in Central Bedfordshire, Southampton and Liverpool.

Disabled artists and companies awarded £700,000

Seven performers in circus costumes. Central performer balances on ladder held horizontally. Empty wheelchair beneath.
26 Mar 2024

Disabled arts commissioner Unlimited says funding awards will help showcase the 'vibrant spectrum of disabled artists across the UK'.

ACE to consider long-term future of race and disability groups

Arts Council England offices in Birmingham
26 Mar 2024

The public funding body's National Council will explore how its race and disability groups can 'continue to develop', with the creation of a gender advisory group also a possibility.

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.

£500k capital funding for Colchester's Mercury Theatre

Image of Mercury theatre
14 Feb 2024

The theatre, which reopened in 2021 after a £11.9m refurbishment, will use the money to create new rehearsal and meeting room spaces.

Edinburgh Deaf Festival 'facing funding crisis'

Chief Exec of Deaf Action Philip Gerrard with Edinburgh Deaf Festival Ambassador Nadia Nadarajah at the 2023 festival launch
11 Dec 2023

Organisers say losing the festival would mean fewer opportunities for deaf artists to fulfil their potential.

Vault Festival finds new home

29 Nov 2023

The organisation behind Vault Festival has announced plans to move into a new venue in central London to host its next festival in autumn 2024.

Vault Festival of live performance has taken place at The Vaults, a theatre and creative space beneath London Waterloo station, since 2012. Earlier this year, the venue announced it would no longer host the event, putting its future in doubt.

Vault says its new multi-space venue will be a “thriving artistic hub” located in a vacant space in Zone 1. Due to open in spring 2024, it will host “new creative ventures” in addition to the yearly festival and will be aimed at supporting early-career artists. 

The company is currency fundraising for access equipment in the new space.

Vault Director and Co-Founder Andy George said: “One of our non-negotiables for our new home was ensuring we have step-free access so more people can enjoy the work of our wonderful artists. But we don’t want to stop there. We want to install access tools throughout the building so that artists and audiences who are d/Deaf, deafened or living with sight loss can enjoy everything we and our artists do.”

He added: “We are pumped to have found a new home for VAULT following a challenging few years.”

Wave of change in disabled-led theatre

Two actors on stage
29 Nov 2023

This week a trio of plays opens at Live Theatre Newcastle in which, for the first time, every show is captioned. For Vici Wreford-Sinnott, playwright and disability activist, it shows how times are changing.

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.

Dementia friendly opera

Audience at a relaxed performance of The Last Siren
16 Oct 2023

A collaboration between The Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory and The Music Troupe aims to make opera dementia friendly. Dr Andy Northcott and Edward Lambert share how the project came about.

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.

AHRC funds research into blind people's experience of art 

19 Sep 2023

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded £250k for research into how blind people experience art in museums and the ways it can be enhanced.

A collaboration between Dr Ken Wilder and Dr Aaron McPeake (University of the Arts London), Dr Clare O’Dowd from the Henry Moore Institute and the disability-led arts organisation Shape Arts, the project is the first to be awarded financing from AHRC’s exhibition fund.

The three-year study will feature a research season and public engagement events culminating in a 2025 exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute, predominantly featuring works by blind or partially-blind artists and directed by a blind curator.

Working with Shape Arts, the project will also generate the first international database of blind and partially-blind sculptural artists.

Wilder said the project would investigate the role that “touch, sound, smell and proprioception – the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body – play in engaging with sculpture”.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, said: “As audiences and venues change, and as we seek to be more inclusive and bring our culture to everyone, the nature of how we stage and curate exhibitions needs to evolve. 

“This project will unlock fresh ways for different and often overlooked audiences to experience our historical and cultural heritage, ensuring its value can be fully appreciated by many more people, but they will also inform all of our exhibition making.”

Fund for disabled artists worth £600,000 opens

04 Sep 2023

Disabled artists will be able to apply for a share of £600,000 to bring their ideas to life.

A total of 14 awards will be made to disabled artists in England, Scotland and Wales to develop and present work across the country or internationally through Unlimited's UK and international open awards.

Cat Sheridan, Senior Producer at Unlimited, said the organisation is keen for applications for radical, ambitious and original ideas across a whole range of artforms, sizes and scales. 

"We can't wait to discover what wonderful work this investment will support,” she said.  

Pete Massey, Director North at Arts Council England, said: “Unlimited are changing the perception of disability and challenging the cultural sector by commissioning disabled artists, while also supporting people in all communities to express themselves creatively and experience arts and culture. 

"I’m delighted that we are funding them as a National Portfolio Organisation and look forward to seeing the extraordinary work these awards will support.” 

The deadline for applications is midday Monday 2 October.

Scottish project explores experiences of autistic adults

28 Aug 2023

A new seven-month creative project hopes to highlight the experiences of older autistic adults with learning difficulties in Scotland.

The collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and Scottish Autism will use filmmaking and art to shine a light on the hopes, concerns and needs of this group, while also exploring together what future social care services could look like.

The AHRC-funded collaboration is titled: 'Ageing, health, and social care: the meaningful engagement of autistic people with learning disabilities'.

Autistic filmmakers Iceberg Productions will interview autistic people with learning disabilities, aged 55 and over, to create a documentary which will be presented at a series of workshops.

Professor Mary Stewart, Director of Social Interaction, Mental Health and Wellbeing at Heriot-Watt, said the motivation for the project "came from the unfortunate reality that autistic people with learning disabilities do not often have their voices heard in research".

She added: “We know that using art as a tool for discussion can be very effective and allows for a range of ways to engage with discussion.

"The outcomes of the project will ultimately be used to raise awareness and provoke discussion with service professionals, policymakers and the wider community in Scotland and beyond."

Ethnic diversity of ACE workforce in decline

21 Aug 2023

Arts Council England's annual report of 2022/23 registers a decrease in ethnic diversity of its staff, while percentage of disabled staff continues to rise.


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