News & Insights

Reflecting on Year 1 of our DIAP

Last year we launched our second Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) – an action orientated plan offering transparency and momentum to the commitments we’ve made to embed access into everything we do. 

After a year of delivering this second plan, we took a moment to reflect on some of our key improvements, resources developed and advice we’ve been given along the way by our incredible Access Advisory consultants and peers.  

Read to find out more or watch the Auslan video. 

Access Guides are now a staple document we create for every event. The benefit of these guides has been two-fold: offering audiences in-depth sensory and social information about a show, as well as providing Arts House team deeper insight into how we can best support artists and audiences in their experience. With advice from our advisory group, we’ve made an Access Guide template that we tweak & complete with artists and aim to publish two weeks in advance of opening night. Feel free to download, adapt and use the template for your own event. 

Arts House Quiet Space is a sensory retreat where anyone who may have sensory sensitivities can take some time to self-regulate. We worked closely with Loom Arts & Management, and consultant Artemis Derlanea Muñoz who made recommendations on how we could design this space to be multi-functional with a range of seating options, soft furnishings, dimmable lights and stim objects. Some of their top advice we wanted for those wanting to make a Quiet Space includes: 

  • Keep it Simple – as clutter (even aesthetic clutter) can be loud 
  • Keep it Flexible – to allow those using the space to adapt it to their needs 
  • Keep it Neutral – to be less likely to come into conflict with someone’s sensory needs  

Our Access Workshop Series has been an incredible way to invite artists experimenting with embedding access to share their tips, tools and experiences with Arts House artists. Last year we commissioned Fayen d’Evie to lead a workshop on inter/sensory access innovations through performance. Their Access Lab & Library offers case studies and guides on artist-led strategies available for all. We were also fortunate to work with Fayen’s RMIT Master of Communication Students during our Makeshift Publics series who developed a fantastic accessible design resource guide for inclusive design. 

Employing more Deaf and Disabled people in our workforce remains a strong priority. Another process we have started with our Access Advisory Group is reviewing recruitment and hiring processes and finding ways to remove barriers at all levels. Some of the changes we’ve made so far include simplifying selection criteria, advertising new roles in accessible language, providing questions in advance of interviews, allowing notes in interviews and proactively gathering access requests. Our next steps are to ensure this advice remains embedded at Arts House with recruiting managers, and advocate for changes internally at a City of Melbourne level. 

In 2023 we were thrilled to commission and support 8 Deaf and/or Disability led projects and secure partnerships with Arts Centre Melbourne through Alter State and Melbourne Fringe Radical Access. These partnerships strengthen the work we do, providing more finances and support for artists to do their work in flexible, well-resourced environments. Check out our latest Warehouse Residency artists who were co-commissioned with Arts Centre Melbourne! 

Later this year we’re excited to take part in a number of Access Training Workshops alongside Signal and ArtPlay teams including Blind & Low Vision Training with Vitae Veritas, Deaf Awareness Training and Introduction to Auslan with Expressions Australia. This training will help us create a safe and welcoming space for Deaf and Disabled people across our Creative venues.  

For those who want the full low down of what we actioned in Year 1 of our DIAP, you can download the report here: 

PDF | Word 

Please get in touch anytime with feedback or ideas! 

– Sarah Rowbottam, Program Manager with the Arts House Access Working Group 

We want your feedback and ideas 

Arts House values community feedback on our progress in meeting the goals and actions outlined in this plan. 

Feedback can be shared in the following ways: 

  1. Completing the online survey (anonymous)
  2. Providing feedback over the phone (03) 9322 3720 to Arts House reception 
  3. Providing feedback in Auslan. Arts House can coordinate translation 
  4. Emailing artshouse@melbourne.vic.gov.au with your feedback  

        Arts House will acknowledge receipt of all feedback. You are welcome to request a status update on your feedback and how it has been considered. 

        Image: The Dan Daw Show by Dan Daw Creative Projects
        Presented by Arts House and RISING 2023, Image credit: Shannyn Higgins