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Project information

Relaxed Performance Expansion 2019

In 2019 we plan to expand our Relaxed Performance programme to reach over 5,000 audiences with Autism, Asperger’s and complex disabilities. This will mean more young people and vulnerable adults with additional needs will enjoy the magic of live performance with their carers, families and friends

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust logo
  • Need


    We know that our audiences with Autism, Asperger’s and complex disabilities LOVE coming to our theatre. But we also know that a ‘normal’ theatre experience presents many barriers to their enjoyment - a strange, large building with busy foyers, a dark auditorium and loud sound amplification can 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.


    Our Relaxed Performance programme seeks to meet all of these needs – and more – to create a relaxed and enjoyable environment for all. We create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere within the theatre, offering magical moments for every person that comes through our doors. We make alterations to both the content of the performance and the experience for the audience during a Relaxed Performance, as well as provide specialist training for our staff and volunteers.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable 5,000+ audiences to experience and enjoy a Relaxed Performance


    » Offer eight Relaxed Performances across our main auditorium and Patrick Studio theatre spaces
    » Confirmed - Peter Pan, Jan 2019 (panto), Beauty & The Beast, Feb 19 (ballet), Sonia Sabri Co. Feb 19 (dance), Joseph, Jul 19 (musical) ,plus more tbc
    » We will put in place -additional wheelchair spaces -a sensory room & fidget toys -a welcome film & pack -reduced ticket prices -access equipment

    What success will look like

    We can track numbers of attenders and free tickets issued, and we'll be working with a freelancer evaluator to create a full impact study and evaluation report.

    Aim 2

    Offer 1,200 theatre tickets for free to targeted schools and community groups


    » Create an audience development fund and properly resourced budget in order to offer free tickets to the most disadvantaged
    » We will work with a network of special schools and community support groups for our free ticket offer, enabling those most vulnerable to attend

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by the level of engagement with targeted schools and community groups and the amount of tickets we are able to give away for free or at low cost

    Aim 3

    Provide volunteer opportunities to our Corporate community, volunteers and individual supporters


    » Provide increased staff and volunteer training to ensure the best quality of care for our increased number of audiences, training 100 volunteers

    What success will look like

    We will engage 100+ volunteers, providing at least three specialist training events for them. We will also evaluate their experience in our evaluation report

  • 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 eight relaxed performances

    We have a close relationship with theatre producers and already have four performances confirmed

    - Not reaching our target audience figures

    Audiences for our Relaxed Performances have grown year on year, reaching over 4,000 in 17/18. We feel confident demand is growing.

    - Failure to reach desired audience

    We have a strong marketing team and budget and partnerships with relevant organisations who can help promote our offer to target groups


    - Major donors will be invited to performances and meet beneficiaries.
    - All donors will be updated regularly about key developments and outcomes
    - Our Communications team will lead a robust plan to tell the story of our commitment to access and success in this area

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £72,840

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      Amount Heading Description
      £17,000 Ticket costs 1,200 free tickets to targeted schools & community groups (£14pp ticket value)
      £11,000 Welcome Films and Info packs A introductory film and visual story pack created for each peformance
      £12,000 Access Performance costs Provision of a British Sign Language Interpreter, Caption Board and Audio Describer per event
      £9,200 Relaxed Performance Resources Fidget toys & sensory room equipment, soft play equipment hire, printing costs
      £8,500 Marketing & Evaluation Costs 6K Targeted marketing budget and 2.5K professional evaluation
      £7,240 Production Costs Towards production, technical, staffing and resource costs (includes free tea & coffee for carers)
      £4,300 Volunteer training and expense Training and travel expenses for caption provider, BSL interpreter and Signer
      £3,600 Pre-performance workshops Pre-show workshops in schools & communities – x3 ahead of each Relaxed Performance

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    HSBC £15,000 Guaranteed
    Birmingham Hippodrome £26,640 Guaranteed
    Grimmitt Trust £1,500 Guaranteed
    Other Trusts £9,700 Guaranteed
    The Big Give - anticipate raising £20,000 £20,000 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, Square Peg, Acorns Hospice, special schools and community groups


    Audiences of all ages (though particularly young people) with Autism, Asperger’s and complex disabilities, along with their carers, families and friends. We aim to reach over 5,000 people.

    In addition,100+ staff and volunteers who will benefit from specialist training in working with patrons with disabilities and ensuring access for all, expanding their skills and experiences.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Birmingham Hippodrome is one of the most popular theatre's in the UK welcoming over 500,000 people each year.

    We have 10+ years experience in this field, supported by an Access Forum of theatre users who help shape our access offer, ensuring everyone is welcome at Birmingham Hippodrome. We have the facilities, knowledge and experience to provide an excellent experience for our access audiences.

    Plus we have strong partnerships with a number of organisations who support and promote our work.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Chris Sudworth

    Chris is our Associate Director for Artistic Programming and will lead the design of the Relaxed Performances, supported by Access Associate Liz Leck

    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

    Martin Guest

    Martin Guest is the Chair of our Development Board, a group of board members who support fundraising . He will champion the project & help lever fund

All about Relaxed Performances


Would pay for a family of four with access needs to attend a relaxed performance for free

So much consideration was given to preparing for your special audience…the information on the website also supported the transition into the Theatre and allowed staff, parents and carers to prepare the young people, helping to alleviate anxiety and stress. Thank You

Service User