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Improving access for all at Midlands Art Centre (MAC)

The Midlands Arts Centre has recently announced an exciting new partnership with Film Hub Midlands to increase the number of accessible screenings at MAC Cinema. Keep reading to find out more from Cinema Producer David Baldwin!

Hi David! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

My name is David Baldwin and I started out as a newspaper and radio journalist before moving into the exhibition side of cinema, beginning with The Electric Cinema in Birmingham. I started working at MAC in 2018, where I programme our cinema screenings and special events.

For those who don’t know, what is the Midlands Arts Centre?

MAC is a hub of creativity set in Cannon Hill Park that specialises in contemporary work, with a focus on providing arts opportunities for all. We offer a busy programme of theatre, independent cinema, visual arts exhibitions, creative courses and special events.

Tell us about your new partnership with Film Hub Midlands!

We’ve launched a new three-year partnership with Film Hub to rapidly increase the amount of accessible screenings we do at MAC cinema. We’ve always done audio described and hard-of-hearing screenings, but it wasn’t as consistent as it should have been. This new partnership means we’ll be committing to making our cinema programme as accessible as we can make it, building on what we already have to become a leader in the Midlands independent cinema sector.

Inside the cinema at MAC, showing plush red rows of seating in front of a big screen. There are steps leading down the centre of the aisle.

Image Credits: Tom Bird

What measures are you putting in place to continue to improve access?

We’re doubling the amount of audio described/closed caption screenings we do, plus we’ve launched a new monthly sensory screening. We’re also increasing the number of Relaxed screenings in our cinema programme, as well as looking at how else we can make other parts of our programme accessible – for example, by including a BSL interpreter for Q&As and extended introductions. We will continue to improve our offer for disabled audiences, and constantly review our accessible programme and facilities. We encourage disabled audiences that would like to, to give us feedback where possible about their experiences. We will constantly review our accessible offer and listen to suggestions that would help make audiences’ time in MAC’s Cinema more enjoyable or comfortable.

What can disabled visitors expect from a visit to Midlands Arts Centre?

The main thing is that we hope they enjoy themselves without having to worry about not being able to access certain parts of the building or events within the programme. Removing barriers is what Expanding The Frame is all about, and we look to carry that attitude across the centre. MAC is meant for everyone and it’s important those aren’t just words, but rather something we carry through every day in what we offer to audiences. We really value our audiences’ feedback and want to work together to make sure our offer is the best it possibly can be in terms of access.

Thank you for joining us David! To find out more about Midlands Arts Centre and plan your visit, find AccessAble’s Detailed Access Guide here.

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