In 2019, three bands embarked on a journey to make their live gigs more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
Revelland, a European collaborative network that aims to make live music more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities and is funded by Arts Council England created Go Beyond, a six-part, educational video toolkit that provides musicians/artists with the skills, expertise and inspiration to add sensory effects to their shows – making their performances more engaging for everyone who comes to watch. video: https://youtu.be/3r-cVwBf1i4
UK multi-award-winning progressive brass band, part choir, part chamber orchestra, and part avant-garde rock troupe Perhaps Contraption from London joined KNARS from the Netherlands and KRANKk from Belgium as they embarked on a journey to take their gigs to another level by transforming their live performances into multidisciplinary, immersive, sensory, and accessible experiences, drawing inspiration from how music fans with limitations, such as deaf, blind, and mobility issues, experience live music. They incorporated visuals, smells, drama, sign language, movement and more. The resulting transformation into immersive, sensory, and accessible shows has improved the experience for everyone attending, not just people with disabilities. Go Beyond was developed on the back of Sencity Festival, a multi-sensory music festival that’s travelled the globe with 70 events and counting. The goal is to use limitation as inspiration by approaching live music from the perspective of people who maybe cannot hear and draw inspiration from this limitation. Sencity explored and developed multi-sensory effects to increase the emotions within the music. As a result, after 20 years of experience, it is now merged into a European network of passionate artists, directors and event organisers focused on empowering artists to transform their live performances into an immersive, accessible experience on a limited budget.
Ronald Ligtenberg, the founder of Sencity Festival, said:
“Revelland’s goal is to make performing arts accessible to everyone by developing immersive live experiences through connecting artists to leading sensorial experts and people with disabilities, offering new perspectives on creating an inclusive live experience for their audience members.
“Artists are supported in this process by world-leading ‘sense experts’ and experience designers such as Colin Nightingale (Punchdrunk, A Right/Left Project), who has worked with Jack White and James Lavelle (UNKLE), among many others. Together they research and develop sustainable ways of incorporating taste, scent, touch, visuals, lighting, decoration, outfits, dramaturgy, choreography and much more into performance, creating an immersive, multi-sensory experience. Adding these new elements to a live show stimulates all the senses.”
In one episode, Perhaps Contraption’s Christo Squier and KRANKk’s Thomas Geysen share insights about their process The creative processes of and insights of ‘sense specialists’ and ‘experience designers’ such as Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays), Stephanie Singer (BitterSuite) and Adam Thomason (Flavour&Some) giving aspiring artists a first taste of how to create multi-sensory immersive live performances.
Christo Squier of Perhaps Contraption said:
“A key way it’s benefitted me and my creative process is collaborating. The cool thing is that I’ve learned so much from working with lighting designers, producers, dancers, with creative technologists. So just that process of collaborating with people who are experts in their particular discipline feeds into my practice. So that’s definitely the most personally beneficial thing that’s come from it because I’ve had to work so closely with very unique and very talented people that have really upped my game because I’ve learned, say, the ins and outs of lighting design or working with a deaf actor, or designing something that can be rigged quickly and easily in a venue that generates a big emotional response.”
Next year, Revelland plans to kick off a new program with six artists from six European countries. The program includes training and coaching in immersion, accessibility and sensory effects. The artists will learn to integrate sensory elements in their performances and develop an immersive and multi-sensory set that benefits the entire audience, including people with hearing or intellectual disabilities.