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Project information

Relaxed Performances and Access for All

Birmingham Hippodrome is committed to Access for All and every year presents the world’s biggest pantomime. We’ll bring together both of these aspects by staging our third Relaxed Performance of Aladdin in January 2016 and will continue to work with vulnerable audience groups in the future.

January 2016 - December 2016

Charity information: Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust logo
  • Need


    From our long history of working with audiences with special needs, we know that people with learning disabilities can find attending and enjoying live performance a challenge. A strange, large building with busy foyers, a dark auditorium and loud sound amplification can all make for a daunting experience. Added to this, the pressure to be still and quiet during a performance can deter people from attending for fear of disturbing surrounding audience members.


    For the 3rd year in a row, we will create a very special performance of our pantomime for people of all ages with multiple needs. Our ultimate goal is to make visiting the theatre a joy for all. We will:
    • Create a specially tailored version of the pantomime for this audience
    • Create a special video and information pack aimed at alleviating any fears prior to the visit
    • Train our staff in how to create a warm and inclusive atmosphere
    • Provide sensory and break-out rooms

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Prepare, promote and present a Relaxed Performance


    » Present a Relaxed Performance for patrons with a range of disabilities, ensuring we do all we can to create the conditions for an inclusive experience
    » 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 and volunteers in their awareness and care of the specific needs of large numbers of disabled patrons
    » Capture reactions and feedback of all aspects of the day from our audiences and partners, to feed our continual improvement

    What success will look like

    At least 1,000 people with their families/carers will experience the show. Professional development provided for up to 80 staff and volunteers.

    Aim 2

    Build on our reputation as a leader in this field, sharing our expertise and adapting this model


    » Being pro-active in our engagement - not just on the day but by offering support prior to and after the Relaxed Performance to targeted groups
    » Take a leading role in regional and national arts platform for working with this special needs audience
    » Increase opportunities for this audience to get involved with theatre activities, through workshops, performance and/or attendance
    » Develop and adapt our skills for our work with other vulnerable groups: Looked after Children, Young Carers and Children with Life Limiting Illnesses

    What success will look like

    We will provide advice to other organisations who are looking to develop specialist activity of this kind, and adapt this model to our other work with vulnerable groups

    Aim 3

    Offer leadership opportunities with resident theatre company, One of a Kind,


    » Involve our One of a Kind theatre company (a theatre company for young people with learning disabilities) in our Relaxed Performance
    » One of a Kind will be part of our welcome film, inform the planning of our event and volunteer on the day

    What success will look like

    We will have offered leadership opportunities for One of a Kind, a theatre company of learning disabled young people

  • Impact


    We are aiming to develop our expertise in creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all audiences. The Relaxed Performance, now in its third year, is a model of best practice in this area of our work. We are working to build confidence in theatre producers of large scale productions, sharing our best practice to enable us to offer more Relaxed Performances of other shows for our audiences in the future. We are offering new skills to staff and volunteers of all ages and abilities.


    We have identified the following risks:

    1. Not attracting enough audiences to this event - this risk is mitigated by our experience to date - in the first two years our Relaxed Performance audience has grown by over 37% and we have received wholly positive feedback.

    2. Producer backs out - mitigated by our very strong relationship with Qdos, the Pantomime Producer, who have been involved since day one in our Relaxed Performance journey


    1. We will offer regular updates to all our donors and they will receive an automatic invite to our Relaxed Performance, to experience the magic of this event first hand.

    2. We will also seek to share Press and PR coverage of this special event on our news, web and social media platforms

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £21,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £10,000 Ticket Costs Offering subsidised tickets for all audiences
      £5,000 Welcome Film Creating a Welcome Film and Information Pack
      £2,000 Training for staff Offering Specialist Training for Staff and Volunteers
      £2,000 Assisted Performance Costs The costs of offering a signed, captioned and audio described performance
      £2,000 Equipment Purchase of equipment - i.e. sensory toys e.g. Aladdin's lamp

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Birmingham Hippodrome Commitment £7,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts and Foundations £2,000 Conditional
  • Background


    The project will take place in Birmingham, but draw audiences from across the West Midlands


    We will aim to engage:
    -Over 1,000 children, young people, vulnerable adults and their families in attending the relaxed performance
    - Up to 80 staff and volunteers will receive specialist training
    -We will seek to attract at least 5 group bookings from special schools/colleges and support groups
    -As a direct result of our work in this area, we are due to receive accreditation from the Autism Alliance as an Autism Friendly Venue, a mark of quality that says we are open to all

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    With the world’s biggest pantomime, a passion for working with learning disabilities, strong links to sector professionals and experience of delivering two relaxed performances, we believe we are well positioned to deliver a successful project. We have vast experience in working with children, young people, vulnerable adults and their families, including those at risk in society and those with special needs.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager

    Liz has been the Hippodrome's access champion for 10 years and will ensure a suitable performance is promoted to audiences.

    Martin Guest, Chair Of The Birmingham Hippodrome Development Trust

    Martin's leadership to engage Trustees and other donors will be paramount to our fundraising success

    Qdos Entertainment, Pantomime Producer

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

Relaxed Performance 2015

Relaxed Performance 2015


Pays for a discounted ticket

“I thought it was brilliant. Just brilliant. I've waited 9 years to be able to take my autistic daughter to the theatre and for her to enjoy it!”

Parent and Carer