Advertorial from Hynt:
On 26 March 2015 we launched hynt. hynt is a national scheme with the needs of audiences placed firmly at its heart. It’s grounded in an understanding of the challenges that some people face in enjoying everything that arts and culture can offer. We want cultural spaces to be for everyone so we can all enjoy meaningful, memorable and inspiring experiences.
Specifically, hynt is a card scheme that entitles cardholders to a ticket free of charge for personal assistants or carers across participating theatres and venues in Wales. Our scheme is unique because it was designed with Disabled People, and alongside our eligibility criteria we also operate an Arbitration scheme which is managed by Diverse Cymru. This means that if you don’t meet the eligibility criteria but still feel you need additional support, you can have your application assessed by an arbiter. All of our arbiters are disabled people and, as with the rest of our scheme, the decision-making process is rooted in the Social Model of Disability. This means we are interested in the barriers people face rather than any medical condition. It also means that our scheme is able to support individuals that don’t fit into traditional definitions of disability; this is particularly applicable to anyone, for example, with a mental health issue, learning disability or dementia.
hynt is also a website where you can find information about accessible performances at venues across Wales and you can also read our access guides to help you plan your visit.
Finally hynt is a network, working with all of the participating theatres and arts centres to improve accessibility and understanding through professional development, research and sharing of good practice.
We are working with a network of over 30 theatres and arts centres in Wales, trailblazing an approach to improving access to the arts for everyone.
We created hynt because we want to improve access to arts and culture for everyone. We know that if you need support from a Carer, Personal Assistant or Companion visiting a theatre or arts centre isn’t always easy; there are a number of barriers, especially for people with impairments or specific access requirements.
Before hynt there were a variety of different access schemes across Wales that meant customers had to fill in different application forms for different venues to receive different offers. There were no consistent eligibility criteria nor was there a consistent offer for individuals who need additional support.
Not knowing what to expect or how they would be treated prevented a large number of customers from engaging with their local venues. A lack of appropriate and accessible information about venues was also a barrier, not just in terms of marketing communications about activities and events but also information about the venue itself. Being able to plan in advance or understand the environment that you are coming into is a vital tool for a wide range of customers.
We see hynt as a catalyst for change in the arts and cultural sector. Our card scheme is designed to address the challenges that were raised by audiences, venues and stakeholders, but hynt is about much more than a clear, simple and consistent ticket offer. We have set out to be focused on providing better experiences for audiences.
As well as running the card scheme and providing an important resource through our website, hynt will be working with venues across Wales to improve customer experiences, develop audiences and raise the quality and quantity of accessible performances. We have started by delivering a bespoke training programme across the network and by creating an advisory group made up of key stakeholders including venues, audience members and key third sector organisations. We have also hosted our first symposium where we looked specifically at the challenges faced by D/deaf and Hard of Hearing performers and audiences. We are influencing policy: for example, working with the Arts Council of Wales to insist on the provision of accessible performances as a condition of grant for new touring work and developing bespoke projects with partner organisations such as Action on Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Society.