All Access with Perth Festival
A personal goal for us is to ensure art is accessible for all.
Meet Fiona, our Audiences Services Manager whose entire role centers around making our events within reach! We caught up with Fi to break down access at the Festival. We want everyone to be able apart of our community.
Can you explain your role for us?
Fiona: Audience Services Manager is a bit of a vague title, but essentially if you think about it I look after everything that is frontward facing for the audience, which includes audience servicing, front of house and volunteer teams, logistics flow around audience and events, looking at audience experience at our events and the access program.
What is being included in the Festival to make it more accessible?
Fiona: Under the leadership of Wendy Martin (Artistic Director 2016-2019) over the past three Festivals, we have increased how many accessible performances we offer. That ranges from Auslan interpreting at Writers Week talks, offering audio description for select films – we also audio described a play that was performed in Spanish which was quite exciting! We partnered with WAAPA and with the assistance of their broadcast and acting students we record our brochure - so on our website, you can listen to every single page, which is really great. We also create plain-text versions of our brochure which you can download from our website.
In addition to that, we’ve created a comprehensive access guide which goes into great detail about every venue we operate in. There are over forty venues in our Festival so that information can tell you if there’s stairs, lifts, ramps, uneven surfaces, accessible seating, services on offer in the venue, bathroom info and transport and parking options.
We’ve also implemented a dedicated resource in our info centre. We have a separate phone line to assist with access bookings and this year our Ticketing Manager and I worked on moving all our access bookings for Auslan captioning and audio description to being available online. This is huge as it was quite a difficult system but so worth it because now our patrons that require this service can book online, over the phone, via email or in person!
In addition, we’ve invested in quite a lot of equipment which we then lend out to venues so they can increase their access.
Image: Rachael Barrett
Do you have any personal goals for the future of access at the Festival?
F: My ultimate goal is for access to be embedded into the Festival culture so that all patrons have the same Festival experience, from booking to attending the performance, which is why we’ve been working so hard on our booking system to give patrons with access requirements the same convenience to book online the way everyone else has.
As an organisation we continue to expand our services and reach into the community, really challenging ourselves, so at the moment we are working on a new DAIP (Disability Access and Inclusion Plan) which is a four year program of what our key achievements are, what we’re really aiming towards, so we want to keep challenging ourselves to do more.
Is there anything we can look forward to in terms of access for the 2020 Festival?
F: We’re still in the planning stages so I’m not going to give too much away, but we are planning to offer more accessible performances such as more Auslan, audio description and captioned performances plus easier options for bookings. Our Ticketing Manager is working very hard on making sure you can book wheelchair and companion tickets online which is something that currently no other organisation offers, so that’s what we’re really trying to aim towards. We’re also looking at offering some great offers on ticket prices for all our access performances.
Where can people go to find out more?
F: We launch the program for 2020 on 31 October so everything will be live and updated on our website at that time under the access page.
If you want some more information or if you want to discuss any of your access needs with us, we have a special dedicated email which is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call during office hours, currently our number is 6488 2000, from 31 October please call our dedicated access line on 6488 8616. You can also contact us through the National Relay Service on those numbers.
We always welcome feedback and we currently are forming an Access Advisory Committee, so if you’ve got ideas or advice, please contact us.
Check out the Perth Festival access page on the website here.
Image: DADAA Open Day, cr. Rachael Barrett