Theatre News

Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre receives a new award

Theatres often receive industry-promoted awards for being welcoming to their patrons. Increasingly, provision – front of house and back stage – for those potential theatre-goers or indeed employees who might otherwise find themselves excluded has come under the spotlight.

The Two Ticks logo
The Two Ticks logo

Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre has been accredited by the Job Centre with the Two Ticks Positive about Disabled People symbol. This is to demonstrate that the New Wolsey has been recognised for the inclusivity of its recruitment practices.

The scheme has five commitments which have to be fulfilled. The first of these is that all disabled candidates who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy will be interviewed and then considered purely on their abilities.

Following an appointment, disabled employees must be able discuss at least once in each year what can be done to develop those abilities and, where appropriate, extend their use. An important commitment concerns employees who may develop a disability during employment. It requires an employer to make sure that the employee continues in employment.

Other employees are required to develop an appropriate level of disability awareness, so that the commitments work in practice as well as theory. An annual review of these commitments allows for assessment of what has been achieved as well as to plan ways to improve on them.

Both Job Centre Plus and employees should be updated on progress and on future plans. The New Wolsey is about to appoint an Agent for Change, a role designed to create better opportunities for deaf and disabled artists and audiences in the eastern region and to provide a support network for artists and arts organisations.

The New Wolsey has already established close links with companies such as Graeae; its Agent for Change will build further on these.
Newly appointed to the theatre board is Bonnie Collins, the Disability Development Officer for the Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People – an inclusive umbrella organisation, led by disabled people, for disabled people and their member groups.

She comments: "Having visited the theatre on several occasions, and been fortunate enough to have a tour of the entire building, I can honestly say that the New Wolsey has really gone out of its way to make the building accessible for staff, performers and audience members alike. This is no small achievement, as by nature a theatre is not the most easily accessible of buildings.

"As well as physical access, it has also undertaken to ensure that those with hearing and sight impairments are catered for as well as holding relaxed performances. The staff are so well trained to deal with whatever situation may be thrown at them with regards to access and disability that nothing feels like an imposition".

Accessible performances for the autumn 2014 season include audio-described ones for Midsummer Songs (matinée 20 September), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (matinée 11 October) and two for the pantomime Beauty and the Beast (the matinée on 3 January as well as the evening performance on 16 January).

BSL interpreted performances are Midsummer Songs (evening 25 September), Three Men in a Boat (matinée 25 October) and the pantomime (matinée on 3 January). Captioned performances are for Midsummer Songs (evening 25 September), Three Men in a Boat (matinée on 25 October) and the pantomime (matinée on 3 January and evening on 16 January.

There are fully integrated performances at both the matinées on 27 October for Hansel and Gretel. A Farewell to Arms between 4 and 8 November carries the intriguing description of a "creative use of captioning".