Enhance spreads its wings!


A group of three white people sitting and discussing feedback from a post-it note at a Brixton House rehearsal room.

One of the first things I organised when starting my role as Enhance Training Manager in October 2023, was to recruit a pool of experienced visually impaired facilitators and access workers. I worked with many Extant creatives during Pathways 2020-23, and was happy to reconnect with them and the wider Extant network. This blog offers an overview and some reflections of train the trainer sessions and preparation for Post-Enhance roll out starting later in the year.

We are currently training eight visually impaired facilitators from across England with the focus on our Facilitator Handbook for Post-Enhance. Post-Enhance is a ‘lo-fi’ approach to building access on a show post-production and the training package includes:

  • Visual Impairment Awareness Training (VIAT) – for venue front of house staff (including tech, operations and marketing teams).
  • Programme Notes – having watched a final rehearsal of the touring theatre show that is coming to the venue, the facilitator produces succinct programme notes which are a key component for an accessible show without audio description. The skill is to sum up the atmosphere, nuance and visual action of the show within this synopsis.
  • Touch Tour Training – which includes the delivery and integration of the aforementioned programme notes and sees us train a member of each touring theatre company to deliver a touch tour when they’re at the venue.

Our Handbook has been well received, one facilitator reflecting ‘I have gained a deeper understanding and clarity to facilitate Post-Enhance…’ Ensuring that Post-Enhance is engaging is essential, another facilitator highlighting how they have developed ‘different ways of communicating the Social Model of Disability through exercises’. We want facilitators to take ownership of the work, and to make it their own.

In our Post-Enhance access worker training, the group explored writing succinct programme notes within the context of access work. Our trainer created an in-depth presentation to inspire group work and discussion. She later reflected how ‘…sharing the feedback/concerns raised at the Facilitators’ training session… gave me a few extra thinking points/ideas for my session content’ as well as, ‘Post-Enhance has been an evolving process. Caroline was able to supply the most up-to-date information about Post-Enhance which provided a strong framework for my session content’.

Both the facilitator and access worker training has provided a context in which to refine Post-Enhance delivery, whilst keeping a flexible and tailored approach. Bespoke coaching sessions with facilitator and access worker pairs will take place from March, and Post-Enhance delivery kicks off from April.

Thanks to funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we are preparing to roll out Post-Enhance 2024-26 across 6 venues – each working with three theatre company shows – in England each year. It feels exciting that Post-Enhance has the potential to raise the bar on the breadth and depth of accessible and good value practice within the industry, and how it can sit alongside other Extant training. This includes Pre-Enhance which is when Extant work with a company from day one of the creative process: to integrate audio description as a core part of the output.

We’ve just delivered ‘Lunch and Learn’ for our neighbours at Brixton House. Whilst the group were munching delicious wraps and Kit Kats – our facilitator Chris Campion supported by Hannah Quigley – took the group on a whistlestop tour of the Social Model of Disability, and how to apply best practice. Participants enjoyed the informal yet focused setting; feedback on what individuals would take away with them included, Loved how personal/interactive the training was,’ and ‘a good laugh and better understanding on visual impairment as a whole and a spectrum’. We are all looking forward to the three-hour Visual Impairment Awareness Training for Brixton House in April.

We would love to hear from venues and theatre companies who would like to know more about our Extant training programmes. We also want to keep our facilitator and access worker pools fresh, and to work with creatives from across the country. If you are a venue, theatre company, experienced visually impaired facilitator, or access worker – do get in touch: [email protected]

Caroline Jeyaratnam-Joyner, Enhance Training Manager

March 2024

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