Following a hugely successful 2014 which saw ticket sales and attendances break records across the region, the North East theatrical industry has something new and unique to celebrate.
Newcastle Theatre Royal is celebrating being the first theatre in the country to be honoured with the Autism Access Award from The National Autistic Society (NAS).
The award has been granted following a year-long project working with local schools, families and specialists to develop an all-inclusive approach to theatre in relation to the specific needs of theatre-goers with autism.
Newcastle Theatre Royal has already pioneered a highly popular programme of ‘relaxed performances, which this season includes Shrek The Musical and the ever-popular Theatre Royal pantomime, Dick Whittington.These specialist performances include tailored sound and lighting effects as well as a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels.
But this award from the NAS moves a step beyond these specialist performances and looks at making the theatre and its productions accessible at any time of the year. Director of the NAS Accreditation scheme, Robert Pritchett, said: “Newcastle Theatre Royal’s engagement with local autism groups has enabled them to receive accurate and honest feedback that has supported them to establish new ways of working and viewing accessibility within the theatre.
“The Theatre Royal has made an enthusiastic and effective leap into the world of autism, the impact it has had on those that it has supported to come through its doors can be seen throughout all the positive feedback it receives and the success stories they have. It will be with excitement and anticipation that we await the coming year and see the developments and feedback that come from access to more public performances.”
Chief Executive of the Newcastle Theatre Royal, Philip Bernays, said: “We are extremely proud to be the first theatre in the UK to be granted this award from the National Autistic Society and we are very grateful for all the support and guidance they have given us.
“The whole team here at the Theatre have worked extremely hard towards this award and the positive feedback from our audience members with special needs makes all that hard work worthwhile.”
So, once again, the region leads the entire country in recognising the hard work and dedication that those behind the scenes show in bringing the region’s foremost type of entertainment to the public.
Photos: Mark Ferguson