Nick Dobreff
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A Sensory Experience For All

Sensory Friendly Performances provide access to live affordable entertainment for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities

An evening with the Colorado Symphony provides an in-person musical experience that delights and inspires concert goers from all walks of life. But for some individuals and families, the in-hall experience provides unique challenges that make attending a concert difficult or, in some cases, impossible.

With those people in mind, the Colorado Symphony created special Sensory Friendly performances for families of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, autism, sensory processing disorder, or other conditions. These performances are structured in a relaxed, sensory-friendly way to ensure everyone has access to live, affordable entertainment.

These sensory-friendly performances are an inclusive experience. Each performance is open to patrons of all ages and abilities and designed for individuals on the autism spectrum, those with sensory sensitivities, and others who would like to enjoy a concert in a relaxed environment. The Colorado Symphony works closely with multiple accessibility advisers in the community to plan these experiences, where all patrons are welcome to come with family and friends and respond to the music in their own way.

“Sharing experiences with marginalized groups is a social imperative which is incumbent upon every arts organization that serves its community,” said Catherine Beeson, Assistant Principal Violia. “Intentional and engaging Sensory Friendly programming for our vibrant neurodiverse community is one way to address this responsibility.  Music is my super power, and I take the work of art very seriously.  It is my pleasure to help the Colorado Symphony fulfill some of its responsibility to the metro area by serving those who have historically felt like they don't belong in the audience at places like Boettcher.”

Modifications to the concert experience that are typically available at sensory-friendly performances include online pre-visit materials, such as concert playlists, stories, picture schedules, and tip sheets that show patrons what they can expect to experience at the performance. Audience members are free of normal concert constraints like the need to sit still or keep quiet, and instead are asked to wave hands to show their appreciation rather than clapping, which mitigates sudden, loud sounds. Singing, dancing, and vocalizing is encouraged while lights in the audience are kept higher so audience members can see one another.

Tickets for the Sensory Friendly Performances are just $5 and a modified refund policy allows families to receive 100% of their money back if they purchase tickets and find they are unable to attend the day of the performance. This ensures that the concerts remain accessible to everyone.

Programs like this are almost entirely underwritten by contributions and could not happen without donor support. To learn more about the Colorado Symphony’s Sensory Friendly programs, click here.

View photos from our May 11 Sensory Friendly performance below.

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