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Improving Access to Scottish Theatre

Your theatre going days aren’t over because of sensory loss!

When the Access Scottish Theatre website was set up in 2010, it was an addition to an already successful printed guide, which listed accessible performances across 17 venues in Scotland. It was followed by social media presence and a bi-monthly e-newsletter sent out to nearly 600 people. Soon, it was joined by a Fringe version of the e-newsletter which focussed on the accessible performances during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The growth of Access Scottish Theatre (AST) went hand-in-hand with the increase of accessible performances over the years. Captioning alone has increased by 428% since 2007, while 60% of AST users say that AST has increased their attendance at theatre. The new AST website has been designed in consultation with audience members who have been using the online listings. In their own words:

“If you’ve ever thought your theatre going days were over because of your sensory loss, the Access Scottish Theatre website can get you right back in to the swing of things. This is the website we’ve needed for a long time and now we’ve got it!”

                                                                        Ann Thallon, Focus Group Member

Mairi Taylor and Robert Gale of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, who have been commissioned by the Federation of Scottish Theatre to deliver the Access Scottish Theatre project, recollect that it all started with a simple need: the theatres would list accessible performances but there was nowhere to go if you wanted to find out about performances city-wide, let alone Scotland-wide. The AST website covered that gap and, with the newly redesigned website, it is going to include an even wider range of the performing arts in Scotland.

This improvement is welcomed not only by the audiences who will use the Guide but also by the theatres themselves. Andy Arnold, Artistic Director, Tron Theatre in Glasgow, explains how the accessible performances became an essential part of their programming:

“Good access facilities are so important to ensure the inclusion of all audiences for our shows.   I think, like many theatres, we have paid lip service in the past, but now we are working much harder at it.  For example, we will now bring interpreters into rehearsals for some of our own productions so that we can integrate them more into the signed performance”

Access Scottish Theatre is a project initiated by the Federation of Scottish Theatre, which for over 40 years has been dedicated to supporting Scotland’s performing arts sector to be a world leader in artistic and management practice. The organisation is very excited about the success and growth of AST. Hazel Wotherspoon, Interim Director, FST, added:

“The number of accessible performances is on the increase and FST see this as an important development in Scottish theatre, dance and opera. This success is, to a great extent, down to the work done to develop the Access Scottish Theatre project. It is THE one-stop-shop for accessible performances in Scotland, while it also encourages best practice, e.g. publishing the name of the BSL interpreter or audio-describer responsible for a particular show. The new website is going to be even more user-friendly for both the audiences and the theatres promoting their accessible performances.”

So, if you thought your theatre days are over… here comes the new Access Scottish Theatre website: www.accessscottishtheatre.com

For further information contact:

Agnieszka Swida, Marketing and Communications Manager, Federation of Scottish Theatre on 0131 248 4842 / 07714773032 or Agnieszka.Swida@scottishtheatre.org

A selection of photos promoting the new Access Scottish Theatre website can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/m29j1m97u9roave/AABI67gMeDN-1qqGRRX7t4rla?dl=0

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