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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Scotia Festival of Music adds accessibility-focused concert to this year’s line-up

The Scotia Festival of Music teams up with Xenia Concerts for a family-friendly concert that embraces neurodiversity and disability as part of this year's festival of chamber music.

The Scotia Festival of Music teams up with Xenia Concerts, Canada’s accessibility-focused concert series, to present a family-friendly concert that embraces neurodiversity and disability as part of this year’s chamber music festival.

Together, we’re demonstrating that barriers to inclusion can be overcome by redesigning the concert experience. If we account for neurological and physical diversity in how we plan our events, everyone benefits. – Rory McLeod

To bring the musical experience to those who face systemic and social barriers to inclusion, young artists from Scotia Festival will work with musician and Xenia concert designer Rory McLeod to present a concert experience that adapts to the needs of neurodiverse audiences. 

“We’re delighted to be working with these brilliant young artists to broaden the circle of inclusion at Scotia Festival and create an inspiring listening experience in a relaxed environment,” says McLeod. “Together, we’re demonstrating that barriers to inclusion can be overcome by redesigning the concert experience. If we account for neurological and physical diversity in how we plan our events, everyone benefits.”

To prepare for this concert, fourteen young artists at the Scotia Festival are participating in the Xenia Concerts Artist Training Program, an intensive series of webinars and workshops designed to give musicians the tools they need to create neurodiversity-friendly concerts.

“[The training program] made me realize that thinking about different people’s needs is not that far-fetched and makes a lot of sense and could benefit the majority of people,” says Sonia Hellenbrand, a violinist taking part in the program. 

Admission is free, although attendees are encouraged to register to receive a venue guide and accessible e-program before the concert. The venue guide helps prepare the audience for their concert experience by showing them photos of the concert environment, highlighting features such as wheelchair-accessible entrances, accessible washrooms, and a quiet break room. 

Xenia Concerts and Scotia Festival emphasize that all expressions are welcome at the concert. Audiences are welcome to stim, vocalize, move around, and dance without fear of being silenced or kicked out of the performance.

Additional accessibility features of the concert include fidget toys, noise-cancelling earmuffs, flexible seating and a quiet room for breaks, stretch breaks and movement activities, a visual schedule, and short musical selections with varied musical moods.

The Scotia Festival of Music’s Adaptive Concert takes place in the Paul O’Regan Hall at Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax) on Thursday, June 8, at 1:30 pm. Admission is free, but advance registration is highly recommended. Visit eventbrite.ca to register, or visit scotiafestival.com for more information.

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