Over £24,000 has been raised by generous donors for Birmingham Hippodrome to expand their Relaxed Performances. A challenging £20,000 target was beaten in record time so that the popular theatre can stage 10 relaxed performances over the next 12 months. These specially adapted performances ensure disabled audiences and those with Autism, Asperger’s and other complex learning needs can enjoy shows with their families in a relaxed and friendly way, so everyone feels welcome at the Hippodrome.
Individual supporters and local businesses were equally generous, including gifts from Darwin Escapes and IMI plc Charitable Trust. Donations were doubled through The Big Give Christmas Challenge and, having beaten the target, the Hippodrome is now in the running for a further boost from organisers The Reed Foundation.
The eight-day campaign saw cast members from this year’s sparkling Hippodrome pantomime Peter Pan supporting the fundraising efforts. Birmingham favourite Matt Slack and co-star Jaymi Hensley will be part of the team presenting a Relaxed Performance of Peter Pan at 12 noon on 23 January 2019 which is now almost sold out.
Vicki Darby, who has attended Hippodrome Relaxed Performances said: “I was so impressed with the way Birmingham Hippodrome include all types of disabilities with audio-description, sign-language and captions available. A fantastic show, and it prompted us to look at future Relaxed Performances so we can enjoy another visit very soon.”
Relaxed Performances are designed for theatre-goers on the Autism spectrum, with Asperger’s Syndrome and other special needs, and these inclusive shows give everyone the chance to experience unforgettable theatrical performances. The audience are free to come and go from the auditorium, and if anyone needs a break from the action there are calm spaces and sensory rooms nearby. Theatre staff are trained to serve any special requirements, more wheelchairs spaces are offered, and the staff of several Hippodrome corporate supporters also contribute practical support by welcoming the audiences and showing them to their seats.
Rob Macpherson, Director of Marketing & Development at Birmingham Hippodrome said: “A big thanks to everyone who donated to our Christmas Challenge this year – you’ve helped us smash our target and bring the magic of live theatre to even more people.
“It’s a great result to have raised more than £24,000 from individual and corporate supporters meaning we can go from staging just one Relaxed Performance three years ago to 10 between now and January 2020.”