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Arts centre opens doors to people with learning disabilities

By David G Scott

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A UNIQUE performance designed for audiences with multiple learning difficulties visited Lyth Arts Centre.

The show – called The Isle of Brimsker and created by company Frozen Light – tells the story of a fictional island’s last lighthouse keeper. With songs and multiple sensory elements, the company used Dunnet Lighthouse as focal point for their research when making the performance.

The performance at Lyth was a great hit with the participants and their carers. Picture: JMA Photography
The performance at Lyth was a great hit with the participants and their carers. Picture: JMA Photography

Lyth Arts Centre co-director Charlotte Mountford said: "Caithness has a vast and varied population and we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone in the county can access the very best of art and culture.

"Collaborating with world-renowned companies like Frozen Light – who are experts at creating performances for audiences with profound and multiple learning difficulties – allows the arts centre to create a theatre offer for members of our community who might not otherwise get to experience live performance."

The arts venue hosted four performances over two days and its theatre space was transformed into the wild, windy and wet Isle of Brimsker. Audiences were treated to special sensory experiences like light boxes, a vibrating sound pool, smells of the island and even a Bourbon biscuit.

Each performance was for a limited number of participants and their carers or friends and family to ensure that everyone had "a unique and immersive experience" said Charlotte. Every performance sold out receiving rave reviews from both participants and their families.

"The audiences particularly enjoyed the interactions and the sensory experience with many carers and family members reporting what a fantastic opportunity it was to be able to bring their loved ones or members of their group to a performance as it is not something they can usually do."

The arts centre directors have promised to grow and develop similar events and will engage with diverse audiences to see how this can be achieved.

The performance was part of a developing strand of the art centre's programme which seeks to ensure it has performances and activities accessible to all.

The centre also hosted a special music performance in May called Sound Symphony designed for young people with autism. The two performances of that show also sold out.

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