News & Insights

Shaping Access at Arts House

Reflecting on our first Disability and Inclusion Action Plan

Arts House is committed to making North Melbourne Town Hall a welcoming and accessible space, and presenting work by Australia’s leading D/deaf and Disabled artists. 

In 2019 we co-designed our first Disability and Inclusion Action Plan with six D/deaf and Disabled arts creatives, alongside support from Arts Access Victoria.  

For the last three years the actions of this plan have been keenly steered by the Arts House access working group eand has led to significant achievements, including the creation of The Warehouse Residency commissioning program for D/deaf and Disabled artists, implementing over $140,000 worth of building upgrades, creating a dedicated quiet space, upgrading the Arts House website with accessibility functions, creative access consultations and much more! 

We are now entering into an exciting next phase of developing our Disability and Inclusion Action Plan for 2023 which lays out the aims and objections for the next five years at Arts House until 2028. 

To ensure we continue to develop approaches towards an equitable, welcoming, intersectional and inclusive environment at Arts House, we are pleased to announce our new Access Advisory Group who represent a vast range of arts practices, knowledge and skills – Artemis Muñoz, Catherine Dunn, Jonathan Craig, TextaQueen, and Thomas Banks. Alongside Arts Access Victoria, Arts House will consult with this group over the next two years on the DIAP.

Meet our Access Advisory Group here. 

We want your feedback and ideas!

We see the Disability and Inclusion Action Plan as an ever-evolving document, so we are always on the hunt for ways to improve it. We’d love you to complete a short survey on your experience as an artist or audience connected to Arts House. 

Your feedback is important to us. We want to make sure that our goals are informed by and for our community.  

Complete the survey

Survey Information:
This anonymous survey will ask you questions about how you identify, what makes events, venues and communications accessible for you, and what you think Arts House should prioritize in our next Disability and Inclusion Action Plan 2023 – 2028. 

It has 3 questions that are tick boxes or sliding scale, and 6 questions that have text boxes. 

There are other ways to complete this survey: 

Learn more about what we achieved across our DIAP 2019 – 2021: 

As the first iteration of the Arts House DIAP comes to a close, we wanted to reflect on some of the key achievements from the process and share our plans for our next five-year commitment.

    • Established a Disability and Inclusion Action Plan framework that has structural longevity and has facilitated several learning opportunities and activities that have engaged with all department levels at Arts House and community. 
    • Established a dedicated access working group in 2019 with representatives across all Arts House departments who meet fortnightly and commit to steering the actions of the plan. 
    • Established Arts House’s first Access Advisory Group with six D/deaf, Disabled and or neurodiverse people who contributed to co-designing the 2019 – 2021 DIAP. 
    • An ongoing commitment to D/deaf and/or Disabled representation on all Arts House Creative Advisory Groups, peer selection panels for EOI call outs and co-design processes for new programs and major initiatives. 
    • Worked in consultation with Arts Access Victoria and six D/deaf and/or Disabled consultants to co-devise and establish an identified D/deaf and Disability led commissioning program – The Warehouse Residency. Committed $100,000 each financial year from 2022 – 2027, supporting up to 10 major new projects. 
      “Art is open to interpretation, but most importantly it is about participation and that is exactly what Warehouse Residency program offers” says Creative Melbourne portfolio lead Councillor, Jamal Hakim. 
    • Conducted a full building audit of North Melbourne Town Hall and implemented over $140,000 of venue upgrades including automatic doors, bathroom and lighting upgrades, and a dedicated Quiet Space on ground floor. 
    • Created a guided Getting to Arts House video from public transport and drop-off locations, a Verbal map to assist blind and low vision navigation throughout the building and downloadable Arts House Building Document which contains detailed information on amenities, access, navigation, parking and drop-off. You can also now explore Arts House virtually through a 3D scan of the building. 
    • Across 2019 – 2021 supported 20 projects and 31 artists to undertake individual access consultations and explore integrated and holistic approaches to access in their creative development and presentations to audiences, and in 2022 commissioned Loom Arts and Management to design a workshop for all Arts House artists on integrating access into their arts practices. 
    • Offered 61 Auslan Interpreted events, 6 Audio Described events, 6 Tactile Tours, 1 Digital Tactile Tour, 48 digital events and/or artworks with closed or live captioning.  
    • Conducted a full website audit to achieve WCAG 2.0 standard and reviewed accessibility of communications assets including signage, Auslan videos, Easy English guides, website tools and social media with recommendations from contracted access consultants. 
    • Conducted a review of Arts House EOI Call Out systems and formats. Identified and integrated flexible approaches within EOI processes such as soft deadlines, and EOI assistance with consultation from Arts Access Victoria.

    Identified areas of improvement not executed from the DIAP 2019 – 2021 include staffing and employment of D/deaf, Disabled and/or neurodiverse people, strategy for access tickets at lowest price point, audience development to engage diverse communities, and renewed efforts for accessible public transport advocacy. Areas of improvement, alongside new initiatives will be identified and reviewed in consultation with the Access Advisory Group.

    The inaugural Warehouse Residencies:  

    More Than Words Can Say by Catherine Dunn and Sam Martin 

    From March to May 2022, Catherine Dunn and Sam Martin collaborated with a group of Deaf artists to create a culturally safe space to explore storytelling beyond hearing centric environments and spoken word. 

    The residency involved a series of workshops and two sold out evenings of deaf storytelling. In case you missed it, here are some photos from the night. 

    I Am Not This Body by Leisa Prowd 

    Leisa Prowd was recently in the spotlight with
    ABC News for her Warehouse Residency at Arts House sharing her experiences of being under 4 foot in a 6 foot world. Through her art, Leisa explores the relationship with her own body in a world not made for it through movement, film and installation. We’re excited to welcome Leisa back to continue her residency in 2023 and present the final outcomes in a performance season. Watch this space! 


    Image Credit: Here We Are Amongst You by Rawcus, presented as part of Arts House Season 2 2022, Photo by Aaron Walker
    Image Description: A group of performers are captured in various stages of exuberant dancing. They are wearing colourful clothing against a black background. The person in the middle has short grey hair and is wearing a teal dress and cardigan. She is laughing wildly. 

    Related News & Insights:


    The Warehouse Residency Artists 2022 – 23

    Meet our inaugural Warehouse Residency artists. 

    The Warehouse Residency Artists Announced

    Arts House’s new five-year Deaf and Disability-led residency and commissioning program

    The inaugural Warehouse Residency

    Behind the scene with Sam & Cate