Birmingham, UK, spearheads arts accessibility for people with disabilities as world-renowned concert venues, Town Hall & Symphony Hall Birmingham (THSH) are awarded the UK’s first autism charter.
THSH, managed by the registered charity, Performances Birmingham Ltd, is delighted to announce that it has been recognised by Autism Alliance UK as the first ever venue in the UK that are officially autism-friendly. This Charter comes following significant work to meet criteria that ensures that both venues are adaptable, and that staff are trained to specific audience needs.
Richard Hawley, Head of artistic programming, said: “We are passionate about making the arts accessible to people who have disabilities that may have previously stopped them from attending a concert venue, as such we have worked closely with Autism Alliance UK and Autism West Midlands to train our staff and create an environment that meets the needs and wants of people with disabilities.”
The Autism Charter is a framework for making venues autism-friendly and is awarded to organisations that already have, or are well on their way to achieving the points on the charter, which has been produced in collaboration with people with autism.
The Autism Charter is part of a national autism awareness campaign, Connect to Autism, which aims to make public places, local and national organisations, theatres and other venues autism-friendly.
Richard continued, “By signing this charter we are committing to providing people with autism, and their families, the confidence to visit our venues, safe in the knowledge that their needs and requirements will be met and that trained, helpful staff will be at hand to help if needed.
“What this means is that we are creating an environment where people feel comfortable, and that we are equipped to communicate in the different ways people with autism choose to communicate. THSH couldn’t be prouder to be the first venue in the UK to achieve this charter, and we are confident that this is the start of a movement that will transform the way people with disabilities access the arts. While it is wonderful to be recognised at this point, we acknowledge that there is still a great deal of work to be done and we will continue to develop our events to ensure they are accessible to a much wider audience.”
The awarding of the charter comes just weeks after THSH produced the UK’s first bespoke, especially designed relaxed concert for people with autism – The Relaxed Concert featuring James Rowney and Orchestra of the Swan. A resounding success, the concert was designed for people with autism, by people with autism, including star of the show ventriloquist James Rowney and families in the Autism West Midlands network, produced by THSH, in partnership with Autism West Midlands and the Orchestra of the Swan.
Future plans for THSH include relaxed performance: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and other events focusing on those that care for people with disabilities.
Note to Editors
Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a Registered Charity No 1053937. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of around 800 concerts and events a year, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to music from jazz, folk, world, roots and classical, to rock and pop. Over 600,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and almost 13,000 young people and adults participate in the thriving Education and Community programme.
Funded by Birmingham City Council | Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).
We are extremely grateful for the very kind support of the following Trusts & Foundations:
Birmingham Bodenham Trust, Boshier-Hinton Foundation, Edward & Dorothy Cadbury Trust, Eric W Vincent Trust Fund, Eveson Charitable Trust, George Fentham Birmingham Charity, Grantham Yorke Trust, Henry James Sayer Charity, Lord Austin Trust, Mrs Wingfield’s Charitable Trust, Saintbury Trust, Stephen Clark 1957 Charitable Trust and W. E. D. Charitable Trust.