theguardian Family Friendly Venues

Kirsty Hoyle, access manager, Unicorn Theatre

Think simple and straightforward: If we make it easy, accessible and affordable for families to attend cultural events together they’ll be able to build memories and shared emotional experiences that can hopefully galvanise teenagers to break off and start attending things on their own. One of the ways Unicorn is encouraging independence in younger theatre goers is by holding a sleepover without parents later this year.Engage with charity groups too: On the issue of how to engage families, at Unicorn we have found that actively engaging with groups and charities who work with people with access needs has had a hugely positive effect on our usability and family audiences. Working with Contact a Family, the National Autistic Society and others means that often children visit with the charity and then come back with their family. Most of these families have never been to a cultural event all together.

Collaborate: We benefit greatly from being referenced by people who work at other family-friendly venues like Little Angel and Polka, and we do the same. It means there is a feeling of trust among families that we can capitalise on. Equally, linking museums, theatres and other arts venues together to highlight family events would be great.

Make it easy for families: Being family friendly also means clear and easy to access logistical information on websites and in print. Most family outings are like a military operation so let’s make it easy – photos, maps, information phone numbers that are properly manned and staff who know about parking, travel and local amenities.


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