Nottingham theatre recognised for providing an autism-friendly environment
In recognition of the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham’s recent developments in providing a more autism-friendly environment, the National Autistic Society has awarded the venue with an Autism Access Award, a new standard for customer-facing businesses, leisure services and cultural providers.
The venue offers a range of Relaxed Performances, including pantomime, for audiences with a wide range of disabilities and for those on the autistic spectrum. Customers are offered familiarisation visits and visual stories in advance of their visit to help reduce any anxiety associated with visiting a new environment. Due to the success of the Relaxed Performances offered for pantomime over the past three years, this service is now being expanded to include a wider range of productions, including The Snowman in January 2016. Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall staff members regularly participate in Autism Awareness training in order to help them further understand how a person with autism communicates. This in turn helps them to make people with autism, and their carers, feel valued and welcome during their visit.
Robert Sanderson said, “This award is testament to the dedication and hard work that everyone on our team has given to this key project over the past few years. It demonstrates that we are autism-friendly, and that there is a commitment to making sure people with autism can access our services. Inclusion is at the very core of what we do when interacting with members of the public and understanding how a person with autism communicates is vital to supporting them to access the arts. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of all TRCH staff and I would like to thank everyone for their continued enthusiasm for this project.”
Even though more than 1 in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum, many autistic people and their families still struggle to access businesses, the high street and community amenities that others take for granted. With this in mind, the National Autistic Society developed the Autism Access Award to recognise cultural providers that have made adjustments to make it easier to visit them.
Regarding the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham’s award, Daniel Cadey, Autism Access Development Manager for The National Autistic Society, said, “The Autism Access Award recognises the small, simple changes that make a big difference to autistic people. A trip to the theatre can be a daunting experience for the thousands of families in the UK affected by autism, where the noise of other visitors and the etiquette of the auditorium alone can be enough to result in debilitating sensory overload and anxiety. The Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall has made adaptions across their service ensuring that autistic patrons and their families are supported throughout their visit and that vitally, they are able to enjoy the fantastic experience that live performance can offer. As such, achieving the award has been thoroughly deserved.
For more information on Relaxed Performances at the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, visit trch.co.uk/relaxed