BAC - world's first Relaxed Venue

London theatre news: Monday 10 February 2020

Access - Off-West End - Theatres

Battersea Arts Centre becomes the world's first Relaxed Venue, radically embedding access and inclusivity across all its activities, opening-up the venue to more people.
Front of buildin at Battersea Arts Centre - world's first Relaxed Venue

Photo by Morley Von Sternberg

Battersea Arts Centre has been launched as the world's first relaxed venue.

The announcement comes as the theatre celebrates artistic director Tarek Iskander's first season, entitled Going Global.

The venue is actually no stranger to providing a relaxed environment for its patrons - since Autumn 2018, more than 90% of BAC's performances have been relaxed.

However, the venue has now gone further, being the first venue to go through Touretteshero's brand new Relaxed Venue method of identifying and dismantling the barriers experienced by disabled and neurodivergent people.

The basic aim is to make the entire experience of visiting a venue more welcoming, accessible and inclusive.

As part of Arts Council England's Change Makers programme, Battersea Arts Centre has been working with Touretteshero - a company co-founded by artist Jess Thom in 2010 as a creative response to her experience of having Tourettes Syndrome.

The methodology will be available for any other organisation wanting to go through the process and rethink their approach to access.

Jess Thom and Tarek Iskander outside Battersea Arts Centre

Jess Thom and Tarek Iskander - photo by Morley Von Sternberg

Jess Thom, co-founder of Touretteshero, said ...

"By coming on this journey, Battersea Arts Centre sends a bold and exciting message to its staff, artists and audiences that it understands, welcomes and celebrates disability arts and culture in all of its many forms.

We can't wait for you to experience the difference!"

The Relaxed Venue method takes the principles that guide Relaxed Performances and applies them across all of an organisation's spaces and programmes.

Relaxed Performances were originally devised to make performance more accessible to people disabled by the usual rules of theatre etiquette.

The principles encompass everything from clear, understandable advance information, to taking a relaxed approach to movement and noise coming from the audience.

Tarek Iskander, Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre said ...

"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.

This will always be a work in progress, not a destination to reach, but as a mark of where we are, over 98% of the performances in our Going Global season are going to be Relaxed.

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 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."


Battersea Arts Centre

Lavender Hill

London SW11 5TN

Box Office: 020 7223 2223


Battersea Arts Centre website


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