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Birmingham Royal Ballet and National Express West Midlands help bring Ballet to all

Samara Downs as Maggie Hobson and Lachlan Monaghan as Will Mossop – Photo Credit: Bill Cooper

As the Company’s 2019 Accessibility Partner, National Express West Midlands will support Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Audio Described and Touch Tour performance of David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice at Birmingham Hippodrome on 22 June.

Having launched in January 2019, the partnership supports Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Relaxed Performances, Touch Tours and Audio Described Performances. This is the first time that the Company have recruited an ‘Accessibility Partner’, a strategic mission with the sole objective of celebrating and promoting the work of the company in the community.

With the first half of the partnership having focused on relaxed performances, the second half of the year will focus on BRB’s Touch Tour and Audio Described Performances, designed to give theatre-goers with visual impairments a chance to experience ballet. A ‘touch tour’ allows people to feel the weight and texture of sets, costumes, and props in a behind the scenes tour, before watching the performance accompanied by professional audio description through a headset.

David Bintley’s classic British Ballet Hobson’s Choice will be both audio described and provide a touch tour for visually impaired patrons when it is performed this Saturday afternoon at Birmingham Hippodrome. Based on the Harold Brighouse play of the same name, Hobson’s Choice tells the touching and genuinely funny tale of the unorthodox romance between Will Mossop, a poor boot maker, and Maggie Hobson, the fiery and determined daughter of Will’s alcoholic boss, Henry.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Chief Commercial Officer, Paul James, said: “It is BRB’s founding philosophy that great ballet should be available to everyone and it is only by working with like-minded organisations that we can fulfil this ambition.  We are absolutely delighted therefore, to be able to partner with National Express on this exciting long-term initiative to transform access to ballet here in Birmingham.”

Buses are a vital lifeline bringing independence to people with sight loss. All National Express West Midlands drivers are trained to help disabled customers use the buses safely, easily and confidently. In 2017, the bus operator signed up to RNIB’s Bus Charter, which sets out 13 commitments to improve bus travel for people with sight loss.

Speaking about the partnership, Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express UK says: “Like buses, we believe that ballet is for everyone. So it makes us very happy to be Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2019 Accessibility Partner. We are keen to play our part in making it easier for more people to experience the wonderful ballet productions that we have happening right on our doorstep here in Birmingham.”

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Audio described and Touch Tour performance of Hobson’s Choice takes place on June 22 at 2:30pm. Ticket booking details can be found here.

Hobson’s Choice is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 22 June. You can book tickets at: www.birminghamhippodrome.com or call 0844 338 5000.

To find out more about corporate partnership opportunities around our charitable programmes, please contact Autumn Evans on: AutumnEvans@brb.org.uk or on 0121 245 3504.