If you go down to the woods today...

case studies, 2016, stage & screen, relaxed performance, Surrey, England

If you go down to the woods today...

…you’re sure for a big surprise!

The Ambassador Cinema in Woking transformed their bar area into a teddy bears picnic on Disabled Access Day to encourage people to visit and find out more about their accessibility. The cinema, which is part of Ambassador Theatre Group, also held a free screening of Paddington Bear the movie.

Taking Disabled Access Day as the perfect opportunity to engage more with the local community, Briony the cinema’s Access Champion, jumped at the chance to get involved! Find out more about their involvement below.


What event did you hold on Disabled Access Day?

Our event had two parts. Firstly, a Teddy Bears Picnic where families could get together and explore the venue while it was quiet to see what we offer. This was held in one of the theatre bars. The second part was a free screening of Paddington in one of the cinema screens. The screening was subtitled and was a relaxed screening. I came up with the idea after a conversation with our film booker. We still had Paddington on the server in the cinema which means we could still screen it. The teddy bears picnic idea just developed from there, Paddington is a teddy so it all just clicked into place! I wanted the screening to be free, as I didn’t want cost to distract from the enjoyment of the event. The icing on the cake was getting Chris Jarvis to introduce the screening. Again his show on CBeebies includes teddies so it was all working together very neatly.

How did you prepare for the day?

We prepared for the day months in advance. The first problem we had to overcome was getting the film screened for free. After that everything slotted into place. For the day’s events we had an action plan and running schedule and lots of preparation went in to making sure the event would be a success. Around a week before the event we held our usual 6 weekly access meeting but we devoted a section to Disabled Access Day. Here we ran through the plans for the day and discussed any concerns we had. The night before the screening we installed and rehearsed the PA system as well as running a section of the film to check everything was ok.


What feedback did you get from people who took part in the day?

The feedback was wonderful! It was lovely for people to visit the venue and see first hand what we can offer. Also groups from different charities got to meet each other and do a bit of networking.

One family mentioned that it was nice to visit the cinema just too see how the children would react without having to commit to paying for a film they might not sit through.

What impact has getting involved in Disabled Access Day had?

Our customer access database has grown and as a venue we have made contacts with new groups. One group will be returning as a speaker for an access training session we run each summer with the front of house staff.

What piece of advice would you give other venues considering taking part in the day?

Plan Plan Plan and tell EVERYONE what you are doing! For about a month before the event I mention it to literally everyone I came into contact with.