Battersea Arts Centre is relaunching itself as what it claims is the world’s first relaxed venue, in a move it said will help make it more accessible to disabled and neurodivergent audiences, artists and staff.
As a fully relaxed venue, BAC said it will embed access and inclusivity across all its activities, applying the principles of relaxed performances across all its spaces and programmes.
These include clearly signposting information for audiences ahead of their visit, as well as taking a relaxed approach to noise and movement in the auditorium.
BAC has used a methodology developed by company Touretteshero to rethink its approach to access across the building and become a relaxed venue.
It now has a permanent ‘chill-out space’ in the building and makes ear defenders available to audiences at all times. It has also committed to welcoming diverse audiences as well as promising that its programming will reflect disability culture and feature disabled-led work.
More than 90% of all performances BAC since autumn 2018 have been relaxed.
Touretteshero’s Jess Thom said the venue had sent a bold and exciting message to its audiences, staff and artists that it is committed to celebrating disability arts and culture
BAC artistic director Tarek Iskander added: “Battersea Arts Centre has been transformed by this methodology, far beyond what we could have possibly imagined. It has completely altered how we think of ourselves and our relationship to the world.
“There’s a new immediacy and contact between the live performers and audiences that didn’t previously exist. This isn’t just a positive economic or ethical choice for us, it’s is a positive artistic one. The work we have done has been transformational, not just for a few people, but for everyone who comes into our building.”
The relaunch comes ahead of Iskander’s first season in charge of the theatre, titled Going Global, in which 98% of performances will be relaxed.