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Birmingham Royal Ballet welcomes National Express West Midlands as new strategic partner

We are delighted to announce National Express West Midlands as our 2019 Accessibility Partner.

Having launched in January 2019, the partnership will support Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Relaxed Performances, Touch Tours and Audio Described Performances. This is the first time we have recruited an ‘Accessibility Partner’, a strategic mission with the sole objective of celebrating and promoting the work of the company in the community.

The first half of the partnership will focus on relaxed performances. These are performances adapted for those not comfortable in a traditional theatre setting, such as people with learning disabilities or autism. Amendments include more room per person, house lights up and the ability to walk around and make noise during the production. There is also a calm space near to the auditorium that can be accessed throughout the show.

National Express West Midlands has a history of supporting work of this nature, having partnered with Birmingham’s The Hive school and Calthorpe Academy to run placements in the past.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Chief Commercial Officer, Paul James, said:“It is BRB’s founding philosophy that great ballet should be available to everyone and it is only by working with like-minded organisations that we can fulfil this ambition.  We are absolutely delighted therefore, to be able to partner with National Express on this exciting long-term initiative to transform access to ballet here in Birmingham.” 

The second half of the year will focus on our Touch Tour and Audio Described Performance, designed to give theatre-goers with visual impairments a chance to experience ballet. A ‘touch tour’ allows people to feel the weight and texture of sets, costumes, and props in a behind the scenes tour, before watching the performance accompanied by professional audio description through a headset. 

Buses are a vital lifeline bringing independence to people with sight loss. All National Express West Midlands drivers are trained to help disabled customers use the buses safely, easily and confidently. In 2017, the bus operator signed up to RNIB’s Bus Charter, which sets out 13 commitments to improve bus travel for people with sight loss.

Speaking about the partnership, Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express UK says:"Like buses, we believe that ballet is for everyone. So it makes us very happy to be Birmingham Royal Ballet's 2019 Accessibility Partner. We are keen to play our part in making it easier for more people to experience the wonderful ballet productions that we have happening right on our doorstep here in Birmingham."

Our Relaxed Performance of Beauty and the Beast takes place on February 28. Ticket booking details can be found here.

To find out more about corporate partnership opportunities around our charitable programmes, please contact Autumn Evans on AutumnEvans@brb.org.uk or on 0121 245 3504.