Sensory backpacks, containing fidget toys, ear plugs and “Help” cards, are being introduced across Perth arts venues to help people with access needs during performances.
The backpacks will also include items such as stress reliever balls, water bottles, bean bags, ear defenders, weighted blankets and sand and liquid hourglass timers.
The city’s Horsecross Arts team said they recognised the crowds, lights, sounds, smoke and applause of a live performance can be overwhelming for people with sensory issues such as autism, downs syndrome, dementia, anxiety and ADHD, which can cause senses to be over or under sensitive.
The 60 sensory backpacks are designed to calm audience members during performances and ensure shows are an enjoyable and positive experience for everyone.
Head of Creative Learning at Horsecross Arts Lauren Oakes said: “The introduction of the sensory backpacks allows us to continue to improve the accessibility of our venues.
“The backpacks are free to borrow and are on offer to anyone who may benefit from using one whilst in our buildings, whether they are coming into our venues for a show, to use our cafes, or for one of our community workshops.
“We are incredibly excited about the launch of the backpacks and we hope to welcome many new people to Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall in the very near future.”
Funding for the packs was secured from the Tesco Bags of Help community grant scheme, which involved customers voting for local projects in stores.
Backing also came from Perth and Kinross Council’s community investment fund, which also funded an accessibility walk-through video for Perth Concert Hall and staff training.
Horsecross Arts worked alongside Perth Autism Support (PAS) in creating the backpacks.
Ms Oakes added: “PAS has been extremely helpful in providing recommendations and support for the backpack initiative.
“We hope that families who currently access the charity will come to try our backpacks.”
Anyone who feels that they, a family member or friend might benefit from one of the sensory backpacks is invited to an open session to try them out from 10am until 3pm on November 2 in Perth Theatre.