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Harrogate Theatre

Core funded by Arts Council England and Harrogate Borough Council, Harrogate Theatres programme live events across 5 venues; producing and presenting theatre, dance, music and comedy. The Main House (500 seats) and the Studio (60 seats) are situated in the Oxford Street building and over the past three years Harrogate (White Rose) Theatre Trust Ltd has acquired programming responsibilities for the Royal Hall (1,000 seats) and Harrogate International Centre (2,000 seats). In September 2014 the Trust established a new participatory venue for the community called HIVE. HIVE accommodates the development of emerging artists and theatre companies as part of Harrogate Theatres’ Associate Artists scheme and acts as a base for the Theatres’ education and outreach workshops, including the Youth Theatre (180 members), poetry and singing workshops. Harrogate Theatre provides a range of quality arts and educational experiences for Harrogate and District. The Theatre works towards increasing access to the arts by developing both the range and number of people involved, whilst striving for the highest quality of activity to sustain and develop artists, participants and audience members.

18 May 2015
Yorkshire and Humber
Local Alliances:
Harrogate and Rural District Dementia Action Alliance, Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Harrogate Theatre currently offers audio described, captioned and BSL interpretation for a number of performances in our programme. In January 2015 we held our first relaxed performance during our family pantomime. 

To extend our access provision to consciously cater for patrons with dementia Harrogate Theatre will extend the free carer ticket offer to patrons with dementia. We will also provide dementia friendly training to core staff and our front of house team so they are better equipped and more confident when welcoming patrons with dementia. We will also offer free familiarisation tours to patrons with dementia. By summer 2016, in association with Dementia Forward, we aim to have trialled a ‘buddy’ scheme so patrons with dementia are able to continue pursuing their interests.

Harrogate Theatre is also keen to utilise its education space to serve family members of those with early-onset dementia, through offering support sessions which utilise dramatherapy techniques. This will be piloted in autumn 2015 by a freelance practitioner who will be hiring the space. If successful, it is hoped that this scheme will be rolled out regularly, with follow up courses at least once a year.

Dementia friendly services will be promoted within our access provision and through partnership working with Dementia Forward.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Our biggest challenge will be to provide Dementia Friendly training to a large number of volunteer ushers and a front of house team which traditionally has a high turnover. A version of the training needs to be provided to all new starters if they miss the initial push.

It is expected to be difficult to recruit voluntary theatre ‘buddies’ as it will be a new, sporadic role.

2. Actions

  • Provide Dementia Friendly Training to staff

    Working in partnership with Dementia Forward we will provide training to our front of house staff and volunteer ushers to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for patrons with dementia. It will also empower staff to consider these specific needs in future planning or policy making. After the initial training, dementia friendly training will be written into training plans.

  • Research the possibility of setting up a theatre ‘buddy’ scheme

    To support dementia patrons who do not have anyone who shares their theatre interest we will research the feasibility of creating a ‘buddy’ scheme. To do this we will work with Dementia Forward to assess demand, provide buddy training, and pilot a theatre visit. We hope to recruit buddies from the existing staff and volunteer team and will evaluate the pilot with input from the patron and buddy.

    Initial Scoping
  • We will host dementia friendly group activities in our community space.

    We will work with dementia friendly groups to host their activities in our community space. Initially we will work with a dramatherapist and Dementia Forward to pilot a dementia support scheme in autumn 2015. The scheme will be designed to provide support to family members of early-onset dementia patrons to explore the emotional issues around supporting a family member with dementia. 

    Initial Scoping