Arts Centre Melbourne expands Access Programs

ACM_Oddysea_photo by Jessica WyldTo provide families with more opportunities to engage in the arts, Arts Centre Melbourne has expanded its performance offerings for children with disabilities in its 2015 Winter Spring Families Program.

The program features relaxed, access-friendly, non-verbal and immersive performances such as Oddysea – a multi-sensory work designed specifically for children with complex and multiple disabilities and their families.

Arts Centre Melbourne became the first arts venue in Victoria to host a ‘relaxed performance’ specifically designed for children with Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorder or sensory and communication disorders in June 2014 when it co-presented Victorian Opera’s Hansel & Gretel through a unique disability access pilot program.

A relaxed performance provides a calm environment for audiences with elements of the production adapted to reduce anxiety or stress. Lighting and sound levels are adjusted to soften their impact, there is a relaxed attitude to noise and moving around the auditorium during the performance and designated ‘chill-out’ areas outside the auditorium if being inside becomes overwhelming.

In August Arts Centre Melbourne will present relaxed performances of Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo (2 August) where little dinosaur lovers aged 5+ can connect with the wonders of palaeontology through awesome prehistoric creatures that can be touched and fed. Out of the Blue (7 August), a performance for children aged 3 – 7 offers a spellbinding and intimate performance designed specifically for little ones.

On 29 August and 5 September, Arts Centre Melbourne will present Sensorium Theatre’s Oddysea – a fun-filled immersive journey into an under-the-sea world, designed for children with complex and multiple learning disabilities. It incorporates workshop elements, the performers adapt to individual audience needs and the narrative is delivered in a tactile/sensory based way. Set in a beautiful ocean installation, there will be plenty for children to see, hear, smell, touch and taste as the story unfolds around them.

“Our aim is to ensure that all young people and their families have the opportunity to nurture their curiosity and imagination through live performance and participatory experiences,’’ says Arts Centre Melbourne’s Learning & Access Programs Manager Hannes Berger. “The pilot program has allowed us to explore programming from an inclusive perspective much more broadly.”

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Sensorium Theatre’s Oddysea – photo by Jessica Wyld