State of Theatre Access Report 2017
1 November 2017
In 2016, VocalEyes published the State of Museum Access 2016 report presenting the results of an audit of UK museum websites: based on the premise that a lack of access information contributed significantly to lower attendance among disabled people. It cited evidence that disabled people rely on pre-visit information far more than non-disabled people; using a venue’s website is a vital step in the decision-making / planning process. The absence of useful access information lowers people’s confidence that barriers to access will be addressed at the venue itself, and they may change their mind about visiting, feeling excluded from the venue’s target audience.
In collaboration with Stagetext and Include Arts, Vocal Eyes published State of Theatre Access Report 2017, which applies the same principle and audit methodology to theatres across the UK. Our researchers visited the websites of 659 professional theatres, all of which programme performing arts, auditing their access information, and any mention of access services or resources. We omitted from the survey amateur, school and college theatres, and those whose programming was predominantly music, film or comedy.
The key findings were:
72% of theatres provide access information on their website
25% mentioned that they provided audio-described performances and/or touch tours
25% mentioned that they provided British Sign Language performances
21% mentioned that they provided captioned performances
17% mentioned that they provided relaxed performances
The report gives a breakdown of how these figures vary across the UK nations and regions, and provides an introduction to each type of access service, information about resources and alternative formats, a checklist for developing your theatre’s access information together with useful links.
‘Although many in the theatre sector deliver adequate provision too few deliver an exceptional service to the blind and partially sighted community. Everyone has the right to be able to experience performances with their friends, peers and family. It is that feeling of welcome in a venue, confidence their requirements will be met, ease of the customer booking journey, as well as the provision of audio description services. Too few theatres recognise that to effectively market their provision, the message needs to be spread far and wide to all audience members ensuring they are aware that theatrical performances and the themes they explore are open to all.
This report shows where the theatre industry is currently. It also gives a detailed insight into what each venue can do to improve in the future, to the benefit of all audiences who value an inclusive society”
Karen Townsend, Head of Access, Ambassador Theatre Group and VocalEyes Trustee