Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

Beacon Arts Centre spotlights neurodiversity during World Autism Month

BEACON Arts Centre is shining a light on the contribution and creativity of people who have autism as World Autism Month gets underway.

The Inverclyde venue is committed to showcasing and supporting audiences and artists who have autism and other forms of neurodiversity.

The month-long international awareness campaign kicked off yesterday with World Autism Awareness Day.

The annual event is designed to increase understanding of autism and celebrate the lives and achievements of people who have the condition while boosting support for activities and initiatives that promote inclusion.

Autism is a lifelong, developmental condition that affects the way a person communicates, interacts and processes information. Around 44,000 people in Scotland – more than 1 in 100 – have autism. While some people will have subtle differences in their thinking and processing style, others will have more complex needs requiring more intensive support.

The Beacon is getting its celebrations underway with the award-winning play In Our World: A Day on the Spectrum, created and performed by Autism Atlas.

The play is written, produced and performed by autistic adults so they can share their experiences with a wider audience. The Inverclyde venue is also bringing A Home For Hamish to the stage. The interactive adventure is created by dance artist Clare Adam, who is deaf, and dance artist Lesley Howard, who has autism.

Playfully merging dance and British Sign Language, the production follows the story of a child and their imaginary friend as they travel across Scotland to find the perfect night’s sleep.

The Beacon strives to make all its performances accessible and comfortable for audiences with a wide range of needs.

The venue’s annual pantomime has a range of resources for people with autism spectrum conditions and/or neurodivergence who are visiting the theatre. These are designed to prepare visitors for a new experience and help them become familiar with the venue before visiting.

They offer visual stories and symbol resources, and sensory packs are available for hire for free. Each pack contains slightly different items but could include weighted blankets, ear defenders, and fidget toys for audience members with neurodiversity, and the theatre can provide a dedicated chillout area for larger groups.

The Beacon is committed to lighting up all lives through the power of the arts and runs weekly creatability expressive arts classes for children and young people who are neurodiverse and/or disabled.

These sessions are carefully designed to create a safe and friendly atmosphere for children and young people to channel and express their creativity, encouraging a supportive atmosphere among peers, while building skills in theatre performance, rhythm and sound, visual arts and dance.

All activities are free to take part in thanks to funding from Creative Scotland’s Youth Arts Access Fund and Youth Music Initiative, The Foyle Foundation and the Weston Culture Fund.
For more information, or to book, please visit www.beaconartscentre.co.uk.

Karen Townsend, co-director of Beacon Arts Centre, said:

“We are looking forward to celebrating Autism Awareness Day and World Autism Month with our audience. Supporting and celebrating artists and audiences with autism is a year-round commitment and an integral part of our mission to light up lives in Inverclyde and beyond.

“We are delighted to be able to support producers such as Autism Atlas and give them a platform to be heard.

“Our creatability programme is one of my personal highlights of the week, and it is wonderful to see the joy on children’s faces every week.

“We are always willing to help audiences with autism and who need an adaptation to get in touch so we can help welcome them to our venue to enjoy all we have to offer.”

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