In its essence, Relaxed Performance principles are fairly simple – it requires from arts organizers and theatre makers to proactively embrace inclusion and access in a holistic way, from production, programming, marketing, box office to the Front of House staff. The principles of RP provide a structure to adapt existing shows or can be incorporated from the beginning of their development.
What is a Relaxed Performance?
Relaxed performances – sometimes called “sensory friendly performances” or “extra live” performances – were initially designed to make theatre spaces more comfortable and welcoming to audience members with autism spectrum disorder, a sensory and communication disorder or a learning disability. Other audience members who benefit from Relaxed Performances include parents with toddlers, people with Tourette’s syndrome, people who experience anxiety or people who are not comfortable with the conventions of a traditional theatre setting.
While there are a range of tools and practices that can go into implementing Relaxed Performances, the most common example is allowing audience members to leave the performance and come back, adapting the levels of light and sound, and minimizing the possibility of sensory overload.
Why implement Relaxed Performances?
Approaching your audiences with an inclusive framework will benefit your organization in many ways. It will:
- Foster capacity building, confidence and leadership amongst your staff to encourage them to take a proactive participation in a global discussion on arts, disability and human rights;
- Engage and develop new and diverse audiences for the arts to improve access for all;
- Encourage a shift in your organizational policies.
Where can I find Relaxed Performances in Canada?
Below is a list of cultural arts organizations that are currently incorporating Relaxed Performances as part of their programming:
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The Foundation workshop provides a basic overview of Relaxed Performance, what it is, who is this for, how it started and examples of what it can look like in practice. This overview includes information on how to build a Visual Story and working with artists and producers to ensure that the integrity of the artwork is never compromised when integrating a Relaxed Performance in your programming.
This workshop is geared towards your organization’s marketing and communications team and will look at the various ways to engage audiences who may want to take advantage of a Relaxed Performance program. This session will include a workshopping opportunity that will ask your marketing/communications staff to start brainstorming how to successfully market a future RP event.
The Opening the Doors workshop provides training support to your organization’s Front of House, box office, security and volunteers on engaging and interacting with audience members in a Relaxed environment. This workshop aims to enhance awareness on different experiences that your audience members might have at the theatre and ways to help staff feel more confident welcoming all audience members.