The Umbrella Club - Brighton Dome’s membership club for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their siblings and carers – completed its second full season of performances with an awe-inspiring underwater adventure – in Otherworld, an interactive show designed for all children and young people with complex additional needs.
54 Umbrella Club members, siblings and carers joined Captain Cuttlefish and her crew as they followed the marine explorers into a mysterious underwater world beneath the waves. The performance was just one of the array of events which Umbrella Club participants were able to enjoy this season at Brighton Dome through the scheme which aims to offer access to the arts through the provision of free tickets to live performances and workshops, as well as special 'meet the cast' sessions after selected shows..
In total168 tickets were gifted to poorly children, siblings and families for 22 performances between October 2014 and April 2015, building on the success of the pilot project in which Brighton Dome welcomed 120 poorly children and their siblings and parents to a range of performances, ensuring their continued access to the arts and the creation of some wonderful memories.
The Umbrella Club is supported by the American Express Foundation which - through its lead partnership in the Access Project - is helping make Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival events more accessible for all. The Umbrella Club is kindly championed by Chestnut Tree House, Sussex’s only children’s hospice, and supported by BBC Children In Need, The D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Sobell Foundation & SPARK. Generous support is also provided by The Montefiore Hospital and Gatwick Airport.
A parent of one of the Umbrella Club members said: “'We find there's few options of things to do and places to take our son. [Umbrella Club] caters for his needs, he's well looked after and the shows. . . cater for a child with special needs and he enjoys the shows because of that.' Another participant added: 'The theatre is something that our whole family can enjoy together'
In autumn 2014 the Umbrella Club was also extend beyond Brighton Dome - with the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Toy Museum signing up to offer their own free tickets and services to Umbrella Club families. The longer term ambition is to extend the scheme throughout the city and further partnerships with local arts and cultural organisations are actively being sought.
Andrew Comben, CEO Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “The Umbrella Club is an invaluable way to ensure these children, their siblings and their carers are able to access the arts and hopefully share some memorable experiences. We are grateful to all the funders and supporters that make it possible for us to provide this invaluable scheme as part of our on-going work to make Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival events more accessible for all.”
As a registered charity Brighton Dome relies on the generous support of the community in order to continue to deliver a varied range of outreach projects such as the Umbrella Club. For more information about how your organisation can be involved please visit www.brightondome.org/support_us.