Union House Theatre

Accessible Arts

23 August 2017

The University’s biannual creative arts festival, Mudfest, will have a firm commitment to various forms of accessibility and inclusivity.

Commencing on 21 August, it features works presented by approximately 200 participants, the majority of whom are University of Melbourne students.

Artistic Directors and Creative Arts Office Bearers, Sara Laurena and Harriet Wallace-Mead, have prioritised inclusivity and accessibility for audience members; in particular patrons living with a disability.

“There is no point in providing an access measure if you’re not advertising to the relevant communities as well, or if your website is completely unreadable,” Laurena said.

In the lead up to the event, the Mudfest production teams’ Access Officers have developed a comprehensive Access Action Plan which includes having Auslan interpreters present for audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing.

These same audience members will also be able to watch films screened throughout the event, which are all required to have closed captioning. Festival guests with visual impairments will be able to attend tactile tours and audio description tours of performances and exhibitions.

UMSU Disabilities Officer, Alston Chu, said he was excited to see “greater diversity on both sides of the curtain this year”.

“The Disabilities Office has been very happy to see Mudfest’s continued commitment to progressive accessibility. The access managers have displayed thoroughness and ambition in their consultations with us,” he said.

There will also be relaxed performances for patrons on the autism spectrum or who have sensory or communication disorders.

  The Access Action Plan also requires that festival volunteers be provided with venue access and Auslan training, which will allow them to communicate information about the festival in Auslan.

All presented works relate to the theme of ‘Hatch’, devised by the Artistic Directors.

Artists were encouraged to respond to broad processes currently affecting humanity such as climate change and vast global inequality.

Wallace-Mead said that participants were encouraged to respond with humility rather than self-righteousness.

“We wanted rage and hope and kindness and empathy, and we’re proud to say we think that’s what the festival will present,” she said.

The Mudfest program is available online at www.mudfest.art.

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