Symposium Summary

A Warm (and wet) Welcome in Treorchy

On a very wet day in February (more on that later), delegates from across Wales and beyond gathered at the newly transformed accessible studio at the Park & Dare in Treorchy.

Taking Flight’s 5th Access Symposium was hosted by RCT Theatres and in collaboration with hynt. Funded by Arts Council of Wales, and generously supported by Dearborn Consulting LTD.

The symposium explored all elements of creating the warmest of welcomes for everyone – especially for those people who may find traditional theatre etiquette a barrier. 

In the morning Jess Thom and Matthew Pountney of Touretteshero (www.touretteshero.com) presented ‘A Warmer Welcome – Relaxed performances from Start to Finish’ on the theory and practice of relaxed performances. 

If you make art inclusive, you make it better. The stories we tell will be broader, more nuanced, more interesting and more likely to bring disabled people in as audiences”.

Jess & Matthew gave us an in depth presentation on the adjustments that can be made by venues and producers alike to make our theatres truly welcoming to all. They made it clear that access is a process, and not something that just happens and then is done, never to be revisited. They left us with 3 commitments that we delegates could make to create radical change within their organisations:

  1. Create no new barriers.
  2. Ensure equality of experience – give time, thought and creative energy to the different ways in which people might experience your venue/work.
  3. Reduce faff and fuss, acknowledging the damage systemic barriers can have on individual and community well-being.

After lunch, delegates heard from Andrew Tinley, Operations and Access Manager at Derby Theatre (www.derbytheatre.co.uk). ‘The Barrier isn’t Access’- an exploration of simple, effective tools to make venues more relaxed in their engagement with artists, young people, staff and audiences. Andrew led an interactive session, challenging delegates to consider what steps their organisation was already taking to increase access and to think of ways in which they could improve and build upon the things already in place.

We were due to undertake Dementia Friend training with Andrew for the final part of his session, however rain stopped play with flood warnings in place and threats of road closures bringing the session to a dramatic early conclusion! Watch this space for online access to Andrew’s training session for delegates.

“Taking Flight created a supportive and welcoming environment from start to finish, embedding care and consideration into every section of the day. The speakers from Tourette’s Hero brought incredible expertise to the room and facilitated in depth and considered discussion. In the afternoon there was space and time to think about realistic actions for each of our organisations or contexts that we could put into place, spending time in groups discussing how to overcome barriers to each of our aspirations. In every way, this event exemplified excellent practice and had a profoundly positive impact on how I think about programming. I learnt so much that I will be able to take back to my organisation and managed to meet colleagues and start relationships that will continue to inform my practice. I would make it a priority to attend Taking Flight’s future programmes like this one and would encourage supporters to continue their investment as a way of creating and sharing learning across the Welsh arts community.”
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Taking Flight Theatre
Chapter Arts Centre
Market Rd
Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1QE
029 2023 0020

Youth Theatre meets at:

Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Place
Cardiff, CF10 5AL

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