Project information

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs: Relaxed Performance

Birmingham Hippodrome is committed to access for all, and every year presents the biggest pantomime in the world. Our Big Idea brings together both of these aspects through the staging of a Relaxed Performance of Snow White, designed specifically for audiences with autism and learning disabilities.

January 2014 - January 2014

Charity information

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Development Trust

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Development Trust logo
  • Need


    From listening and working closely with them for many years, we know that people with learning disabilities can find attending and enjoying live performance a challenge. The dark auditorium, sound amplification and busy theatre foyers can all make for a daunting experience. Added to this, the pressure to be still and quiet during a performance can deter people from attempting to attend for fear of disturbing surrounding audience members.


    Through a Relaxed Performance we aim to address the problem by promoting a supportive, friendly theatre environment for people of all ages to enjoy. Sound levels will be reduced and house lights dimmed. Working with the production company, we will present a modified show, tailored to the needs of this audience. Visitors will be sent venue and show information in advance to help them prepare and staff will undergo specialised training focused on communicating and interacting with the audience.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Prepare, promote and present a Relaxed Performance


    » Present a Relaxed Performance to an audience of people with learning disabilities and capture reactions and feedback afterwards to improve future work
    » Work with the producer and sector professionals to present a suitable performance with supporting materials available both in advance and on the day
    » Prepare internally by training staff in their awareness and care of the specific needs of large numbers of disabled patrons

    1,000 disabled people with their families/carers will enjoy the show. Professional development provided to 100 staff. Develop Relaxed Performances as a regular strand of work.

  • Impact


    The project will build on the theatre’s expertise in working with people with learning disabilities. The performance will have a lasting impact on those who attend, illustrating to them that theatre is accessible. Staff will have additional training to promote an accepting culture and understanding of different audiences. Relationships will be strengthened with local schools and communities. Success in these areas will result in future presentations of Relaxed Performances.


    The main risk is not filling the auditorium to 1,000, but with the correct relationships in place and our strong track record in working in this area, we feel confident that the risk is minimal. A secondary risk of not linking with professionals within the sector could threaten the impact of the project but these relationships are already being developed and there is plenty of time to continue with this.


    Major donors will be invited to the performance. Low-level donors will receive an update on achievement after the challenge has closed. A second report with stories and testimonials from the day, and PR features via our own channels (website, programmes) and our media contacts will follow.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £15,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £10,000 Tickets Costs Subsidise discounted tickets
      £1,000 Marketing Materials for performance promotion
      £2,500 Supporting Services Cost of supporting services for the day
      £1,500 Training Training for 100 staff on communicating effectively with audiences and evacuation chair training
  • Background


    23,800 people from Birmingham have learning disabilities (NHS Learning Disability Service).This central Birmingham project, will build on the theatre's extensive work with special schools and autistic young people and the theatre’s partnership with Open Theatre Company. It will form an integral part of the Hippodrome’s strategy which in recent years has hosted two national symposia to debate how theatre can help young people with learning disabilities through their transition into adulthood.


    Anyone who is on the autistic spectrum or has learning disabilities, along with their family/carer will be welcomed to this performance. Our front of house team will be given professional development opportunities through specialised training. Finally, the organisation as a whole will benefit as the status of our charitable activities is raised throughout the city and region through the project campaign and associated promotion and press.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    With the world’s biggest pantomime, a long track record of working with learning disabilities and strong links to sector professionals, we are well positioned to deliver our Big Idea successfully. We have researched how other theatres present Relaxed Performances and spoken directly to the teams involved. This will be an organisation-wide project with Front of House/Hospitality, Education, Technical/Production, Marketing/PR and of course, Fundraising all working to the same goal.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Liz Leck, Education & Audience Development Manager

    Liz has been our access champion for 10 years and will ensure a suitable performance is promoted to stakeholders.

    Mark Smith, Chair Of Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Development Trust

    Mark's leadership through this project will be paramount for fundraising success.

    Qdos Entertainments

    Qdos produce the annual panto and their fundamental support and on-going commitment towards access initiatives is much appreciated.

As a mother of an autistic son with severe learning difficulties I just want to see a big thank you for this wonderful thoughtful idea!

Lin Lloyd