Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres in the UK, is awarding £25,000 in grants to six theatres through the Accessible Theatres Scheme to make their buildings more inclusive. Theatres Trust works to ensure theatres in the UK meet the needs of their communities and improving the accessibility of theatres is a vital part of their remit. Thanks to funding from the Theatre Development Trust, the grants have been awarded to improve the accessibility of professional theatre buildings for audiences, performers and staff, with projects split between building works and the installation of assistive technology.
Seating will be reconfigured to create more flexible wheelchair user spaces in the dress circle of Grade I Bristol Old Vic, the UK’s oldest continuously working theatre. A comprehensive external project will create level access to all areas of The Spire in Brighton, housed in Grade II listed St Mark’s Chapel. Funding will allow The Barn in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, to move its technical control booth so it is accessible to all its staff and volunteers.
Theatres Trust funding will contribute to the accessibility element of the 50th anniversary capital project at Newcastle’s Live Theatre, which will include installing a new assistive listening system and hand-held captioning equipment in its main theatre, and power-assisted doors in its auditoria, rehearsal, backstage areas and offices. As part of a larger project at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, hearing loops will be installed across the building including in rehearsal spaces, meeting rooms and box offices. Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford will upgrade its assistive audience system, which will significantly improve access to its programme.
Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan commented: “Responding to the pandemic has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year, but it is important that theatres continue on the journey to being truly inclusive spaces and that accessibility does not fall by the wayside. We are therefore delighted to be able to support six theatres with projects that will improve accessibility, whether it is for their staff and performers or the local communities they serve.”