Some Good Thinking On How To Present Sensory Friendly Events

Adaptistration People 077When it comes to performing arts and inclusion, one of the more recent issues is introducing elements related to structuring events around attendees with disabilities or developmental differences, especially families with Autistic members. To that end, Sarah Marczynski published a wonderfully informative article at on 7/1/2015 about that very topic that does an excellent job at walking you though the topic if its new to you then diving into a good bit of detail.

Marczynski provides first-hand experience along with a wealth of additional resources.

A sensory friendly concert environment is one that

  • Does not have a PA system
  • Provides room for movement
  • Provides props like scarves, ribbons, or other manipulation items for movement
  • Has a quiet space or room for sensory overloaded guests

Check which characteristics you can reasonably achieve: Can guests be seated near an aisle so if they need to move they can get up and do so; can one of your lobby rooms/dressing rooms serve as a quiet room?

If you can’t achieve them, let guests know ahead of time that there may be a PA system or that there will be flickering lights or they may bring their own small manipulatives, so they can prepare for the concert.

All in all, it’s a must-read for anyone responsible for planning and implementing these types of events and it makes an equally good read for educating board members and artists on the topic.

Read Presenting Sensory Friendly Events at

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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