On Saturday the 18th of November, our Autism Friendly team partnered with entertainment giants Disney Theatrical Productions to deliver a relaxed performance of Beauty and the Beast. This is especially modified for children and adults who may not be able to attend a regular musical production due to sensory overload.
During the relaxed performance, audience members were encouraged to becompletely authentically themselves; to make sounds, move around, fidget or use noise-cancelling headphones.
In the weeks before the show, our team assessed the performance and venue to recommend modifications so people with sensory sensitivities were considered and cared for at all touchpoints.
- A visual story explaining the show step by step.
- Inclusive and welcoming language used on the official website and during the ticket-buying process.
- Increased staff and volunteers to assist audience members.
- Turning off all announcements throughout the theatre.
- Providing a quiet room and quiet spaces equipped with sensory coping tools.
Resounding Praise from Heartened Families
The culmination of the Autism Friendly initiative at the theatre was nothing short of a standing ovation in its own right. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, echoing the inclusive spirit that was the hallmark of this event. Parents took to the web to share their heartwarming experiences, reflecting on how the initiative not only opened the curtains to a world of performing arts for their families but also created an environment of understanding and support that is too often lacking.
Enchanted Moments for Families at the Theatre
Lisa A. shared that the event was "an incredible experience for our family", a sentiment that resonates with the core goal of our initiative — to make the arts accessible to all. For Lisa and many others, such events should not be rare occurrences but a regular invitation to enjoy the magic of theatre.
Kat M.'s gratitude was palpable when she confessed her surprise at being able to enjoy musicals with her son, thanks to the exceptional accommodations and support provided. Her plea to "please, please do this again!" is a powerful motivator for our team to continue pushing the boundaries of accessibility in the arts.
Sarah H. praised the volunteers and staff, whose presence and assistance made the event not just possible, but a beautiful experience of inclusivity. The joy she and her son felt is a testament to the community's need for such initiatives.
The Next Act: Expanding Inclusive Arts
The feedback from these parents and many others solidifies the impact of the Autism Friendly initiative. It's clear that this is more than just a one-time event; it's a stepping stone towards a future where the arts are a domain of inclusivity, where families like those of Lisa, Kat, and Sarah can routinely experience the transformative power of theatre.
As we close the curtains on this successful chapter, we are inspired to expand our horizons and to continue making the arts a welcoming space for everyone.