The Delta Project’s Under My Skin, a dance work created by deaf and hearing artists on at Arts House for Next Wave Festival.
What does it take to be truly accessible for audiences and artists with disability? If you don’t know the answer to this question, you should take advice from Next Wave Festival.
This year the festival has announced its ‘most accessible program yet’ with a new set of initiatives that will make it easier for diverse audiences to attend.
All of these activities form part of a long-term strategy for Next Wave to be more inclusive of artists and audiences with disability,’ said Artistic Director of Next Wave Festival Georgie Meagher.
‘We believe that a diverse conversation is the only conversation worth having, and the more expansive the conversation becomes, the better.’
Looking at the example set by Next Wave, here are three ways you can make your own programming more inclusive and broaden your audience.
REMOVE THE FIRST BARRIER: ACCESS TO INFORMATION
It’s not only the programming that creates accessibility for audiences on the day, but also includes the information available online. Auslan interpreted videos, MP3 sound files, large print PDF, RTF, and Word files, and accessibility requirements are clearly signposted across the website to provide the information people need with ease.
EXPLAIN WORKS IN DIFFERENT WAYS
It’s important to create opportunities for audiences who are hearing or sight impaired to engage with a work. To facilitate this, five events have introduced audio descriptions to enhance the theatre of film experience for vision impaired people, while two other works will provide audio notes before hand to help explain and describe them.
Six performances, exhibitions, and artist talks also include tactile tours that allow patrons who are blind or have low vision to have a hands-on experience.
Other performances and artist talks have experienced Auslan interpreters in attendance to translate. Assistive Listening and Open Captioning are also used to improve access and make the festival more inclusive.
PROVIDE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
By providing a writers residence program Next Wave provide additional support for writers who identify as having a disability. The Writers in Residence program will provide eight emerging critical and creative writers who identify as having disability learning opportunities in the lead up to, and during, the festival.
Participants in the program will attend five workshops, receive one-on-one mentoring, will write in response to art or ideas at Next Wave, and will have access to work-in-progress shows by artists performing at the Festival.