Welsh scheme to improve access to the arts for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences to be rolled out across UK
A scheme developed in Wales to improve access to the arts for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences, is to be rolled out across the other UK nations.
The Hynt access scheme was set up by the Arts Council of Wales in 2014 and is managed by Creu Cymru in partnership with Diverse Cymru.
The aim of the project was to create a single national access scheme for customers with disabilities and their essential companions and was developed in conjunction with disabled people and input from the third sector, theatres and arts centres.
Member organisations pay to be part of Hynt and as a network receive staff training, an annual symposium and an opportunity to share best practice and learning.
A new report has highlighted the success of a scheme for audiences and venues, and the economic benefits it has also delivered.
The report, funded by Arts Council England reveals an increase in theatre attendance and an improved quality of life for disabled audience members due to the introduction of the Hynt scheme.
As of October 2023, according to the report, Hynt has issued 29,866 cards to members to be able to use in more than 41 theatres, arts centres and associate venues across Wales.
Among its findings were:
76% of cardholders said being part of Hynt improved their access to culture.
89% would go to the theatre less without their Hynt card and 14% would not go at all.
82% say Hynt makes going to the theatre more affordable.
68% report that Hynt improves their physical access to venues.
52% say they are better able to access content.
81% of cardholder report Hynt increases the amount of social interaction in their lives.
In addition, as a result of being part of the scheme, cardholders visited theatre 75% more.
This resulted in 144,000 more theatre visits across Wales, half of which were full price tickets. 58% of cardholders also said they visited a new venue as a result of Hynt. It also confirmed that for every complimentary ticket venues gave to Hynt cardholders, they made an average of £23.53 in additional revenue.
The overall economic benefit to local economies surrounding Hynt venues was calculated at £3,261,200 a year. In addition, for every £1 spent on Hynt, £6.05 of social value is created.
Hynt venues generate £42.33 in additional value for every complimentary ticket they give away.
Megan Merrett, Project Manager of Hynt said “This report is a powerful reflection of the impact of Hynt on Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audience experiences. The recommendations will help us to develop Hynt with our project advisory group, member venues and associates.”
“ I’m excited to see Hynt grow and I’m glad to have been involved in creating a more consistent offer for our cardholders and their essential companions.”
The success of Hynt in Wales has also inspired the arts development agencies of the other UK nations to develop a UK wide version of the scheme, further details of which will be announced shortly by Arts Council England.
Andrew Miller MBE, the UK Arts Access Champion said: “Hynt was a groundbreaking initiative by the Arts Council of Wales in 2014 and as a member of the Council that approved it, I feel great pride in all the achievements listed in this report”.
“This evaluation also provides critical data which will shape the UK version of Hynt that I champion, with important learnings on every page such as how every free companion ticket issued generates significant secondary income for venues.
“Hynt has created real economic and social value, it has encouraged Welsh venues to improve their access, but best of all, it has provided over 26,000 disabled people with better access to culture. Hynt is a fantastic success story for Wales”.
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