Birmingham Hippodrome Access Forum member and mother of two children on the autism spectrum blogs about our Relaxed Performance

Audiences members enjoying our first Relaxed Performance

Audiences members enjoying our first Relaxed Performance

Our guest blogger this week is Alaine Powell, mother of two children on the autism spectrum and a member of our Access Forum.  Alaine writes about her experience at our first ever pantomime Relaxed Performance earlier this year.

I first heard that the Hippodrome was staging a Relaxed Performance at an Autism Spectrum Disorder support group that was attended by some of the Hippodrome. As a parent of two children on the autism spectrum it’s extremely hard to find activities to suit all of the family, so when we heard about the Relaxed Performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Jan this year we had to go!!!

Our eldest child is on the autism spectrum and loves the theatre, he can’t get enough of it, but there isn’t always the opportunities to and now we finally had a show we could all attend.

We bought the tickets, received the DVD – an especially-created short preview film for families like us to see exactly what was in store – and went into preparation for attending the theatre. We arrived a little early on the day and I have to say, from the minute we walked in the door we were made to feel included. A member of staff had some spare sparkly hats (the hats were so the staff could be identified more easily).  She approached the kids and asked if they would like to try one on. At one point, our middle boy started to get a bit flappy and twitchy. For once no one batted an eye lid – no tutting, no rude staring, just an amazing level of acceptance.

The show was amazing as always; the amount of thought and detail that was put in to accommodate everyone was fantastic. The captions for us were a little too wordy, but for others that will have been just right. The sensory items provided were a life saver. Our middle boy happily sat on his feet for the whole show with a twirling light up toy under his chin.

We had a fantastic day and they had less pressure to leave their world and be forced to conform and join ours. This really helped.

Would we recommend this? Hell yes

Will we be there this Jan? Most definitely

I hope all who see this can understand how vital a facility like this is for families like ours and all those who have fantastic special kids.

Thanks again Birmingham Hippodrome.  Alaine

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Our panto Dame, Gary Wilmot, one of the stars of this year’s Jack and the Beanstalk, supports The Big Give Christmas Chellenge 2014

The next pantomime Relaxed Performance takes place on Friday 29 January for Jack and the Beanstalk and we have set ourselves the target of raising a total of £24,000 to make this performance even bigger and better than last year. Already grant-making trusts have donated nearly £6,500. But we still need to raise £6,000 in online donations in December, which will then be doubled.

It’s so simple in exactly one week’s time from 10am on Thurs 4 December, Fri 5 December and Sat 6 December your donation could be doubled via the Big Give Christmas Challenge, just visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com/biggive
Only with your help will all this be achievable.  So please put those December dates in your calendar, keep your eyes peeled for our blogs, emails and reminder tweets in the coming weeks; and spread the word with friends and family.
Thank you for your support.            Find out more about the relaxed performance here.    #tbgchallenge

 

 

It’s time to Give Big again this Christmas – with ‘The BIG Give’

Time is ticking away and we are getting ever closer to this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge when you can help someone see a special Pantomime performance… oh yes you can!

Last year, for the first time, we adapted one performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so that it was suitable for anyone on the autism spectrum, with learning disabilities, or with a sensory and communication disorder.

It was our first ‘relaxed performance’ and it went down brilliantly.

Special technical adaptations to the performance were made (such as reduced sound levels and lighting adjustments, plus some adapted special effects); soft play and breakout spaces were kitted out for patrons to relax in before or during the show (this was particularly important for many young patrons visiting us for the first time); extra training and support was arranged for our front of house team; and, with some special needs teenagers, we created a short preview film for patrons to see exactly what was in store. Ticket prices were also heavily discounted.

As an unsubsidised charity ourselves, we were only able to achieve all this through the generous help of supporters like you who contributed donations as part of The Big Give.

The feedback from last year’s visitors about what the staging of this special relaxed performance meant to them was inspirational:

“Thank you for thinking so much about being an all-inclusive venue – it really matters!! Probably more than you will ever realise.”

“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.”

MAKE A DONATION – MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
This year’s target: £24,000

This year for Jack and the Beanstalk, we have set ourselves the ‘gigantic’ target of raising a total of £24,000 to make our relaxed performance on 29 Jan 2015 even bigger and better than last year. Already grant-making trusts have donated nearly £6,500. But we still need to raise £6,000 in online donations in December, which will then be doubled.

It’s so simple: From 10am on Thurs 4 December, Fri 5 December and Sat 6 December your donation could be doubled via the Big Give Christmas Challenge, just visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com/biggive

Only with your help will all this be achievable. So please put those December dates in your calendar, keep your eyes peeled for our blogs, emails and reminder tweets in the coming weeks; and spread the word with friends and family.

The countdown continues…….
The Big Give was founded in October 2007 and enables donors to support their favourite charitable projects. Since its launch, The Big Give has raised over £50 million, with the majority of this raised through Challenge Funding, where donations made on the specific dates are doubled. Last year the campaign raised over £11 million for 387 participating charities.

The Countdown is on to give big with Big Give…

Development Administrator, Rosie Milsom writes…

Following the success of our Big Give Christmas Challenge 2014 in support of our first ever Relaxed Performance, the Hippodrome Development team are once again gearing up for the campaign to raise funds for the next Relaxed Performance at this season’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

And we can’t wait! We are dusting down our sparkly trilbies and plan to make sure as many of our audience members as possible know that an online donation to the Big Give Christmas Challenge will make a BIG difference to the lives of hundreds of young patrons with autism, sensory impairments and learning disabilities. It’s a chance for them to come into the theatre with their families and carers to enjoy a specially adapted version of the pantomime featuring an amazing line-up of stars.

Donations made during the specific Big Give Challenge period have the chance to be doubled. This means we can transform the auditorium and foyer spaces into an environment where visitors with a variety of conditions can receive an extra special Hippodrome welcome. Our fabulous, long-standing pantomime partner, Qdos Entertainment, adapts a spectacular performance with the needs of our patrons on that day in mind.

In the meantime, there’s so much to do, including making a dedicated pre-visit film that to helps visitors prepare and feel reassured about their trip to the theatre, source sensory and anxiety-reducing toys and provide dedicated training for our Front of House teams and volunteers with Relaxed Performance partner, Autism West Midlands.

Every Hippodrome staff member is looking forward to a repeat of this fantastic project because the feedback was overwhelming, with comments from audience members such as:

“I’ve waited 9 years to be able to take my autistic daughter to the theatre and for her to enjoy it”

And for this reason we’re very excited that we’ve been accepted onto the Challenge again. Our target during the online donation phase is £6000. And you can play YOUR part during the online donation phases on Thu 4, Fri 5 and Sat 6 Dec.

We want to make even more dreams come true this Christmas but we will need a little help from you. Donations from as little as £5 made online during the challenge could be doubled by our Big Give Champion, making your gift worth twice as much to us.

You’ll be hearing more about The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2014 over the coming weeks, but for now, put December dates in your diary and find out more info about the project here. Birmingham Hippodrome and its patrons – making theatre accessible for all.