Access performances can take many forms; captioned, audio described, BSL-interpreted, and relaxed performances are all commonplace these days, with many organisations making sure that at least one of each of these performance types is available during any run of a show. In this article, we’re going to talk about how you can highlight all of your access performances online, so that your customers can see everything that’s available to them.
Why should I offer accessible performances?
Scheduling access performances benefits both your audience and your organisation, opening up your programme to a larger, more diverse group of people, including those who may have previously not engaged with it.
There are multiple ways in which you’ll see the benefits of doing so. For example:
- You’ll be giving equal opportunity to all your customers to partake in your programme, allowing access customers to attend performances that are right for them – and to do so along with their friends and family
- People who don’t consider themselves access customers, or to have particular access requirements, will see the benefits – e.g. non-caption users often report that captions prove beneficial when watching live theatre
- A larger, more engaged audience base will encourage the growth of your organisation overall, both financially and culturally
- Welcoming a new demographic of audiences will help widen the view of your community, helping you gain a better understanding of the needs and desires of your potential market
It’s also worth remembering that, once you’ve gained the loyalty of your access customers, chances are they’ll prove excellent advocates for your organisation, as well as offering insight into what you can do to continually improve your offering.
Of course, just as important as programming these access performances is ensuring that customers have a clear understanding of what they entail and exactly when they’re happening.
Flagging access performances in Spektrix
Before you can highlight your access performances (either online or in the Sales Interface), the first thing you need to do is decide how you’re going to flag them in Spektrix – in other words how you’re going to record which performances are going to be accessible.
The easiest way to make a distinction between one particular Instance of an Event and the rest of them is by using Instance Attributes. You can create these in the Settings Interface and, as with all Attributes, you can choose which format you want each one to take (currency, date/time, dropdown list, free text box or check box). See our article on Custom Attributes for full details of how to create these.
We’d recommend creating a few different check box Attributes, each of which can be used to identify a particular kind of access performance. Creating individual Attributes for each of these performance types mean you can use them in conjunction with one another as necessary, e.g. if you have an Instance that’s both captioned and BSL-interpreted.
Make sure you give each of these a clear name and description, and ensure you tick the option for This attribute is visible in your API integrations:
NOTE: any check box Attributes you create cannot be set as always required as, by definition, a valid response to a check box could be leaving it unticked.
These Attributes will allow you to select whether each particular Instance has any accessible elements, which as you’ll see will allow you to highlight these online. They’re not necessarily going to be as helpful for staff using the Sales Interface however, so we’d also recommend setting up a separate Instance Attribute which uses a free text field so that you can fill in the details of what accessible elements each Instance contains. You can then search for these really easily in the Sales Interface.
You might for example, call this Attribute Instance Info. This one doesn’t need to be visible in your API integrations:
In this example, we’ve added a Description to explain that you can use this Instance Attribute to search for specific types of access performance in the Sales Interface.
You can also include this Instance Attribute in your Ticket Design, to print the relevant information onto your tickets so that it’s clearly displayed as a reminder to customers even once they’ve got their tickets in hand (or inbox, with print at home tickets).
What does this look like in Spektrix?
When you create or edit an Instance, these Attributes will be listed along with any other Instance Attributes you’ve created beneath the standard fields:
Finding/highlighting access performances
Once you’ve begun using Attributes to keep track of your access performances in Spektrix, you can start using them to show your customers when these performances are taking place. We’ll have a look at how your box office team can search for and identify these Instances in the Sales Interface, and how you can clearly flag them online.
Searching for Attributes in the Sales Interface
Using the Instance Info free text Attribute that you made, your box office staff can easily run a search that shows them all upcoming access performances of a certain kind. In the Sales Interface, under Events > Event Search, you’ll see that along with searching based on show name and start date, you also have the option to search for Instances by both Event Attribute and Instance Attribute:
The Instance Attributes option allows you to search for any part of the text used in your Instance Info Attribute. This will return any Instances whose Instance Attributes include text matching your search.
It’s worth noting here that this will find matches for text inputted in any Instance Attribute. For example, a search in this field for AD will bring up any Instances that have the Instance Info Attribute completed with the words AD performance, but will also bring up Instances that have the letters AD together elsewhere – such as in the Confirmation Text Attribute. With this in mind, you’ll want to be quite precise in both how you complete this Attribute and how you search.
Using the blue sticky note
It might also be worth flagging these Instances further using the blue sticky note tool. In the Admin Interface under Events, search for the Event and then click through to the Instance in question. No matter which section you’re in of the Instance editor, you should see a blue sticky note icon in the top right corner:
Click into this and you can add extra information to be available in the Sales Interface for this particular Instance. If you tick the Popup note box, this information will pop up whenever the Instance is chosen in the Sales Interface, allowing your box office team to confirm and clearly communicate that this is an access performance.
Even if you don’t use the popup functionality, it’s easy to tell if an Instance has had its blue sticky note field populated, as the icon will appear as if it has writing on it and the information will be displayed when you hover over it:
Using the API online
As long as you’ve followed the instructions laid out above and set your check box Attributes (i.e. the ones you’ll use to mark whether a particular Instance is BSL-interpreted and such) to be visible in your API integration, your web developers can use this information to highlight these performances online in a number of ways. Here are some nice examples to get you thinking about how you might like it to work on your website.
A single switch
The Octagon Theatre Bolton have a Show Accessible Performances Only switch that appears when you’re looking at performance dates and times for an Event:
When used, it makes a call to Spektrix to find any Instances for which one or more of these check box Attributes has been ticked and then hides any that don’t meet this criteria. Each date then has a note alongside it that lets you know exactly what kind of access performance it is.
The New Wolsey in Ipswich have used their check box Attributes to create a number of filter switches. When you click through to any Event in their calendar, you can choose to Show Filters and use these switches to show only performances that meet particular criteria, or combinations of criteria:
They’ve gone a step further and have also used the API to filter on other performance types, such as matinees, evening performances, and ones with post show talks. As the API can be used to pull all manner of information from Spektrix, including show times and ticket availability, there’s a wealth of possibilities open to you.
A single access page
Chichester Festival Theatre use the API to pull through all their access performances to a dedicated page:
Here, they explain what each kind of performance type is and then have full listings of all upcoming performances, all of which can also be filtered by performance type.
How do I set this up myself?
If you’re interested in using the API to do something similar, speak to your web developer and direct them towards our developer portal, where they’ll find all the information they need to get started. They can also always reach out to the Spektrix Support Team with any questions they might have.
Using Iframes online
Even if your website uses solely iframes rather than the API, you’ll still want to find a way to flag your access performances online. You could do something similar to The Royal Court in London, for example, who maintain a standalone page on their website that lists all their upcoming access performances by type:
Customers can then click through to the relevant Event, where this information is also readily available alongside the Event’s other details:
There’s a link to the Access Performances page from the Royal Court’s dedicated Access Information page as well, making it really easy to find.
Things to consider
Access customers often book very far in advance of a visit, so you’ll want to get your access performances online and visible as early as possible.
When it comes to selling access performances, whilst it’s important to make it clear exactly what each performance entails, remember that they can also be great for people who don’t necessarily fit the expected ‘profile’. For example, relaxed performances intended for people on the autistic spectrum are also enjoyed by individuals with other sensory processing disorders, dementia, families with small children, and more.
If you have any further questions about access performances, or creating and using Attributes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.