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Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo aims to become inclusive venue

Young people with disabilities stand and wave for a photo in the theatre's atrium

We are committed to becoming an inclusive venue and the dedicated team here are working to make the Hawk’s Well accessible and welcoming to everyone in the community. In the last couple of years, a lot of work has been done in this area. Key initiatives recently launched include:

A fully accessible show coming in March 2023: A show for everyone aged 7 and upwards is coming to Hawk’s Well on Wednesday 15th March (7pm performance) and Thursday 16th of March (10am performance). PRISM is produced by Replay Theatre company and is designed with accessibility at its core. With captioning at every performance, pre-recorded audio description of key visual moments delivered as part of the sound design, and provision of an ISL interpreted performance, this is an accessible show that everyone can enjoy. The theatre will also provide social stories prior to the show and a relaxed chill out room for use before and during performances if required.

are available upon request at 6.30pm and 6.40pm on Wed 15 March with the opportunity to meet the characters and explore the set before sitting down. The presentation of this production in Sligo has been made possible with the support of Creative Ireland – Sligo and Arts Council funding. Booking can be made through the website or through the box office 071 9161518 (Mon – Wed 10am – 2pm, Thurs – Fri 10 – 5pm)

Shine: A Drama Programme for Young People with disabilities: In January this year we started a programme of weekly immersive drama workshops for a group of young people with intellectual disabilities. This project aims to achieve greater equality of accessibility by supporting people with intellectual disabilities to access theatre as participants. Engagement with community groups and support services shaped the programme and we partnered with Sligo Leitrim Community Inclusion Training Services, National Learning Network Sligo, This Ability and Down Syndrome Sligo to get the programme up and running. This series of workshops is part-funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality (IHREC) Grant Scheme as part of the Commission’s statutory power to provide grants to promote human rights and equality under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. IHREC also funded training at the theatre in 2022 for local artists to work in this area. It is hoped to keep these workshops going at the theatre on a long term basis if continued funding can be sourced. We would like to thank its main funders the Arts Council for their help in facilitating this work.

Shows for children with complex needs at St Cecelia’s School: Over the last few years we have brought several productions made specifically for children with complex needs directly out to schools and early care settings in the region. In April of this year they have brought two such productions to St Cecelia’s School; Groove - a seventies-inspired adventure full of harmony singing and immersive video developed by Anna Newell in association with the Civic Theatre in Tallaght, and Hear Our Voice - an interactive, immersive camping adventure from Phillida Eves that is led by the children’s engagement. The presentation of these productions in Sligo has been made possible with the support of a grant from Creative Ireland – Sligo.

Giving Voice to various sectors of our community: We have been working to give voice, agency and ownership to the younger generation via initiatives such as The Takeover project and New Voices playwriting workshops. Artist in residence, Miriam Needham, is also working on new project that gives voice to primary school children wherein they are facilitated and empowered to speak out their thoughts, feelings and ideas and in late April audiences will get to experience the outcome of that process.

The theatre’s Cultural Companions initiative is a network for people interested in arts and culture to attend events and meet-ups together.

This is Me - creative workshops for young people with ASD: Over the last number of years the theatre has programmed annual creative workshops for young people with ASD with thanks to funding from the HSE National Lottery Grant Scheme.

Inclusion in the workplace: Stephen Brick is one of the participants from the Hawk’s Well Theatre’s Shine project. Stephen is working with the theatre to help promote shows since October 2022. Stephen is a huge fan of the arts and loves coming to see shows at the theatre. He is helping to distribute posters and fliers to promote our shows with the support of his key worker, Jane Tansey, who also shares Stephen’s passion for the arts.

Concession and Carer Tickets: We recognise and acknowledges people's differences and supports the individual needs of all patrons/customers. Where applicable concession prices are offered to senior citizens, under 18s and people with disabilities. Carer tickets are available on certain performances to aid a customer with a disability who would be unable to visit the theatre without the support of another person. Please contact the Box Office on 071 9161518 to enquire about concession tickets for disabilities and carer tickets.

Training for Theatre staff: Our staff have undertaken Autism Awareness training, and Disability Equality Training in recent months. Thanks to the HSE Children’s Disability Network Team, Sligo and Arts & Disability Ireland for facilitating this training for staff.This training helps us support people with additional needs when visiting the venue.

Visual Guide on website: A visual guide (or social story) has been developed to enable individuals with autism understand the social situation they can expect when attending an event at the theatre. This can be viewed on our website

Jane Tansey, Community Access Facilitator from Sligo Leitrim Community Inclusion Training Services commented on the Shine Drama Participation programme:

“It has been fabulous seeing the participants’ progress from week to week on the Shine programme .. they are really starting to blossom and get more confident .. I can’t wait to see where it’s all going to go from here! For Sligo Leitrim Community Inclusion Training Services collaborating with National Learning Network Sligo and the Hawk’s Well Theatre has been a really positive experience to produce a high quality drama programme to enable participants to express themselves creatively under the direction of professional actors/tutors.” -Jane Tansey

Some of the participants from the Shine programme also commented:

"I love to do Acting. Thanks to the Hawk's Well. The Hawk's Well is like a dream to me."- Kyle Burns

"I like Acting, I have a good imagination"- Rian Pereira

"I like the singing sessions"- Tim Curran

"I like coming here, it makes me happy"- Leanne Wynne

"When I come here for this project I get excited and later on I can't wait to tell everybody what I'm doing"- Maeve Kilcoyne

Des Forde from ThisAbility commented:

"ThisAbility would like to thank Hawks Well Theatre for the work they are doing to make the theatre inclusive to all. We are particularly looking forward to seeing “Prism”, a show specifically developed for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities but suitable for all. Full inclusion is high on the theatre’s agenda, who are providing chill out areas, touch tours and opportunities to meet the characters before the show. The performance includes captioning and ISL.”