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(UK) Halstead: Theatre returns to "autism-friendly screenings"

April 10, 2022, Braintree Halstead Gazette: Autism-friendly screenings returning to Halstead Empire Theatre

SE England

A THEATRE has announced the return and continuation of special screenings to support those with a neurological and development disorder. The Empire Theatre in Halstead has revealed that it is relaunching its autism-friendly cinema screenings, to help more enjoy the wonders of the big screen. The initiative began a few years ago, after the theatre wanted to spread the joy of the cinema community-wide. Chairman of the Empire Trust Mike George explained why the project is so important. … He said: “The theatre is a community project, and we want to open our doors to anybody and everybody. “As the chairman of the trust, my remit, ambition, and desire is to give a place where people can go if they feel excluded or lonely, get people come out when they wouldn’t normally. “It is all part of our community project, to get people using the theatre, and these screenings are open to all levels of autism, all ages, all kinds, to include everyone. “With Covid, we did stop it, but are now look forward to reopening it up, just like the dementia showings, and I think people looking forward to it coming back too.” The showings support those with autism or any other sensory sensitivity, with adjustments made to make the experience more relaxing and enjoyable. These include leaving the lights on low, turning the sound down, having no trailers or advertisements and freedom to bring your own food and drink and move around and sit where you like. Staff are also trained in autism awareness, and there is also disabled access, and a ‘chill out’ zone where available. The sessions are currently on Thursday’s, once every month, with doors opening at 10.30am for an 11am showing. Mr George added that he hopes to bring them to more than just one day a week. He said: “We were also contacted by a couple of centres and a school saying that it is shame it is in the week, so we hope to do one at the weekend.

Staff and volunteers with the Halstead Empire Theatre and Colne View Care Home for Dementia friendly cinema days


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