About Learning and Participation

We love the performing arts and we want everyone to have opportunities to get involved and take part.

What we do

Our Learning and Participation programme creates a range of ways for people to discover and explore the performing arts, as audience members, and as participants and artists in creative projects. That means we’ve done some extraordinary things over the years: from building a giant beanstalk in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, to making original films and dance works with all of Edinburgh’s special schools. So, in the same way that you might buy a ticket for a stand-up gig, a ballet or a musical at a Capital Theatres venue, you might also attend a tea party with live music, try tap dancing or write original songs based on your neighbourhood.

Meet the team

Cat Sheridan, Learning and Participation Coordinator

Dawn Irvine, Learning and Participation Coordinator (Dementia Friendly Projects)

Our ethos

We believe in everyone’s right to participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts. We recognise that Capital Theatres plays a significant role in Edinburgh’s cultural life and work proactively to increase and broaden engagement with the arts. We work with patterns of attendance and participation to address inequalities in access to the arts. From spring 2018, our five core areas of work are:

  1. Programming and pioneering alternative performance experiences, such as relaxed and dementia friendly performances, for audiences whose needs are not met by traditional models.
  2. Offering greater access to our artistic programme through collaborations with visiting companies.
  3. Producing high-quality new work in which diverse people join us as participants, co-creators and performers.
  4. Animating our foyer spaces through a stimulating series of performances, activities and events.
  5. Maximising opportunities presented by the redevelopment of the King’s Theatre for people to engage in the performing arts and heritage.

Long-term Programme

Relaxed & Inclusive performances

Capital Theatres staged Scotland’s first ever relaxed performance with The Snowman at the Festival Theatre in December 2012. Since then, the programme has gone from strength to strength, with a range of relaxed and inclusive performances for people who’d prefer a different theatre-going experience, plus their friends and families.

At a relaxed performance, you can expect adjustments to the show itself, such as reduced sound levels and lighting in the auditorium throughout the performance. Want to make some noise or move about during the show? No problem! We have extra staff on hand to take care of our audience and a quiet area for people who want to take time out.

In parallel with our annual relaxed pantomime for schools, we work with schools in the run-up to the show to ensure that children with the most complex additional needs have the best possible theatre experience. This includes wide-ranging sensory storytelling activities, to help children get to grips with the characters and plot. We cover the cost of transport for all Edinburgh special schools to visit our panto each January. Our partnership with the Royal Hospital for Sick Children takes the magic of panto every year to children who are not able to visit the King’s Theatre.

Find out about forthcoming relaxed and inclusive performances by visiting “What’s on” and selecting the “Relaxed performances” filter.

If you have any questions or comments about our relaxed & inclusive work, please contact Cat Sheridan, catrin.sheridan@capitaltheatres.com

Dementia-Friendly

We are committed to creating a warm, welcoming and adapted environment that enables people to flourish, enjoy the arts and stay connected with the community around them.

Thanks to funding from Life Changes Trust, we are able to embark on the next chapter of this work. The core strands of our dementia friendly programme are:

  1. Opportunities for people living with dementia to access the performing arts as audience members;
  2. Opportunities for people living with dementia to participate in the performing arts;
  3. Training and advocacy, plus developing our volunteer programme & focus group.

We are also striving to promote positive engagement in our activities among diverse groups of people, including people who may not have a track record of engaging with culture and/or may face additional barriers to engaging with culture.

Find more information about our dementia friendly activities.

Care-experienced children and young people

For many years, Capital Theatres has worked in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council, giving 500 panto tickets a year to care-experienced children, young people and the adults in their lives. From 2019, we’re developing this partnership to support care-experienced children and young people to enjoy the arts, as audience members and young artists. 

Find more information about our care-experienced activities.