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On Audiences and Accessibility a Reflection

Celia Levy's picture

During Lisa Sonneborn and David Bradley’s conversation about audiences and accessibility. Lisa shared that “most theaters and museums make an effort to create environments that are physically accessible, and some have even embraced the concept of sensory friendly programming.” Her comment reminded me of an experience I had over spring break.

While I was a way from school, I watched a theater performance. During the show’s intermission, I decided to explore the arts space. On the bottom floor, the theater company had created a space designated as a Quiet Area. This was the first time I had encountered a space of this nature. Located in a secluded corner away from the public eye, the Quiet Area offers momentary relief for individuals experiencing a sensory overload. Curtains hung around the area and a sign was posted to wall. The sign shared information about the space and its origins. Within the space, the theater set aside fidget toys, ear defenders, weighted therapy blankets, and other things that can address sensory overload. I really appreciated that the theater company acknowledged the stressful nature of the performing arts and provided a space for individuals to recenter themselves and decompress from the force of theater.  Even though the theater does not necessarily alter their performances, they provide accommodations to help alleviate the stress of the experience. Hopefully, in the near future all performing arts spaces will have similar spaces for their patrons so that everyone who wants to access the theater can do so without feeling like there are limitations.