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Project information

Relaxed Performances 2017

At Birmingham Hippodrome we have a strong reputation for our work with disabled audiences. Driven by demand, in 2017 we will offer four Relaxed Performances of shows from our artistic programme. This will enable 5,000 audiences with access needs to experience live theatre, many for the first time.

January 2017 - January 2018

Charity information: Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust logo
  • Need


    From listening and working closely with them for many years, we know that people with special access needs and 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.


    We want everyone to feel welcome at Birmingham Hippodrome. Since 2014 we have successfully delivered an annual relaxed performance of our pantomime. In 2017 we want to expand our offer to present four Relaxed Performances. We will reduce the capacity of the theatre to create a supportive environment for people of all ages with access needs & disabilities. We will adapt the show, provide advance materials to allay fears and provide additional staff with specialist training & break out spaces

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Offer four Relaxed Performances during 2017.


    » Work with show producers and sector professionals to select four suitable productions to offer a Relaxed Performance (not just our annual pantomime)
    » Prepare internally by training staff in the awareness and care of patrons with special access needs and complex disabilities

    What success will look like

    We will successfully expand our Relaxed Performances to four shows per year – one during Panto and three alongside musicals or drama productions from our broader artistic programme

    Aim 2

    Increase our audiences for Relaxed Performances up to 5,000 per year


    » Create strong networks with industry/sector specialists (Autism West Midlands, Open Theatre Company, Special Schools and Community Groups)
    » Creating a marketing & audience development plan to ensure we target the audiences who would benefit most
    » Ensure tickets are set at an accessible price point (lower than our regular pricing) to ensure economic status is not a barrier to attending

    What success will look like

    By increasing the number of Relaxed Performances we offer, we can increase our audience reach. We aim to reach up to 5,000 audiences through this programme (1,300 last yr)

    Aim 3

    Make Birmingham Hippodrome a place where everyone is welcome


    » This is a core value for us. By increasing the number of our Relaxed Performances, we can work towards making the theatre experience truly inclusive
    » Seeking opportunities for us to share best practice with other arts organisations & to create more opportunities for access regionally and nationally
    » Seeking autism friendly certification from The National Autism Society

    What success will look like

    We will measure success via feedback from producers, partners & audiences. Success would include further expansion of our access offer and achieving 'autism friendly' status

  • Impact


    Long term we will build on our expertise in working with people with autism and complex disabilities. The expansion of our Relaxed Performance programme will have a lasting impact on those who attend, offering them more choice and making theatre more accessible. Staff will have additional training to promote an accepting culture and understanding of different audiences. Our relationships will be strengthened with local schools and communities and we will be planning more access opportunities.


    - Not securing four relaxed performances

    We have a close relationship with all theatre producers and are in conversations about our plans.

    -Not reaching our target audience figures

    Audiences for our annual Pantomime Relaxed Performances have grown from 800 in yr 1 to 1,300 in yr 3. We feel confident demand is growing.

    -Failure to reach desired audience

    We have a strong marketing & audience development team and will put in place a suitable marketing and press plan to ensure success


    - Major donors will be invited to performances and meet beneficiaries.
    - All donors will be updated regularly via email about key developments and outcomes
    - PR features will populate our own channels and media contacts will update wider audiences on our success and ongoing commitment to access

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £47,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £6,000 Interpretation Costs Provision of a signer, captioner and x2 audio describers per show
      £24,000 Reduced Theatre Capacity Allowing for loss of income by reducing theatre capacity by up to 400 seats per show
      £3,200 Staff training Providing specialist staff training prior to each Relaxed Performance
      £2,800 Extra staff & Room Hire Providing 10 extra staff per show to ensure additional assistance + room hire for break out spaces
      £3,000 Evaluation Indpendant evaluation to track progress and outcomes
      £8,000 Audience Development This will include provision of a familirisation film & advance visit pack per show

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Birmingham Hippodrome £10,000 Guaranteed
    Trust and Foundations £200,000 Conditional
    The Big Give £12,000 Conditional
    Sponsorship £5,000 Conditional
  • Background


    All Relaxed Performances will take place at Birmingham Hippodrome as we expand our offer to meet demand. There are more than 1 million people in the West Midlands with a disability (2011 Census) and we want to build on our extensive work with special schools, young people with disabilities and past audiences. We will also build on the theatre’s partnership with arts organisations and community groups such as Open Theatre Company, Autism West Midlands and special schools and community groups.


    We hope the project will benefit up to 5,000 audiences with complex disabilities, autism and special needs.

    We will target:

    -previous Relaxed Performance attenders
    -regular theatre bookers who utilise access and carer discounts
    -special schools and disability community groups
    -our current relationships with partners such as Open Theatre Company

    In addition, staff and volunteers who will benefit from specialist training in working with patrons with disabilities and ensuring access for all

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are a nationally respected leading arts organisation with a passion for working with those with access needs. We have strong links to sector professionals and the partners necessary for delivering a successful project. To date, we have delivered three Relaxed Performances, allowing for loss of income and implementing changes as we learn from each experience. They are hugely popular and have grown in demand. We are well placed to expand this activity to offer more opportunities for access.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager

    Liz will lead the design of the project and ensure all aspects are well planned and delivered. Liz has over 20 years experience working in this field

    Martin Guest

    Martin Guest is the Chair of our Development Trust, a group of trustees who support our fundraising . He will champion the project & help lever funds

    Access Forum

    We have an active access forum of theatre users with access needs. They will help shape and inform our expanded Relaxed Performance programme