South Carolina Children’s Theatre Receives Greenville Women Giving Grant

To Enhance Theatre Experience for Sensory Sensitive Patrons

The South Carolina Children’s Theatre (SCCT) has been awarded a significant grant from Greenville Women Giving (GWG) to support the theatre’s Transformative Theatre for Sensory Sensitive Families project. 

GWG funds programs that provide an opportunity for important, positive change in Greenville’s Arts, Education, Environment, Health, and Human Service areas.  SCCT will use the grant to purchase Assistive Technology to aid in breaking down the barriers for patrons that experience sensory sensitivities while attending performances. 

“With the purchase of two live feed cameras, viewing screens, side tab curtains for the stage and microphones, we will create open, sensory friendly viewing areas for audiences in both of our theatre’s performance spaces,” said SCCT Artist Director Matt Giles.  “The grant also supports SCCT’s vision to be the most accessible theatre in the state and one of the first in Greenville to offer live feed Assistive Technology,” added Giles.

SCCT believes that art belongs to all.  This includes patrons with disabilities such as sensory sensitivities and neurodiversity.  Examples of sensory sensitivities include: heightened sensitivity to bright lights and noises, increased stress in large crowds or feeling panic in sensory-rich places. “The enhancements from this recent funding will enable us to help educate the public about sensory sensitivities.  This increased awareness will allow us to do what theatre does best – promote empathy and understanding,” commented SCCT Managing Director Katie O’Kelly.  And, because all means all, this investment will also benefit breast feeding mothers, senior patrons, parents with crying children and more.  The new Assistive Technology will be installed, tested and ready for use in the 2024-2025 season.

More About This Accessibility Initiative

SCCT envisions a community where ALL children experience the transformative power of the arts, which nourish creativity, grow empathy, and inspire confidence, which is why we partnered with ABLE SC to complete a feasibility study that identified gaps in inclusivity for patrons with disabilities.

Currently, if a patron has sensory sensitivities and needs to leave the performance space, that patron will miss the entirety of the performance while they are not seated inside our theatre spaces. Assistive Technology can help break down the barriers for patrons who experience sensory sensitivities while viewing our programming by creating sensory-friendly viewing areas to promote inclusivity and ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy the transformative power of theatre.

The South Carolina Arts Commission awarded SCCT a partial matching grant to create these sensory-friendly viewing areas. Greenville Women Giving selected SCCT as an 18th annual grant recipient, allowing us to purchase necessary equipment, such as live-feed cameras, viewing screens, and microphones. The purchase and installation of this Assistive Technology, with the installation help of Productions Unlimited, will help break down the barriers for patrons who experience sensory sensitivities while viewing our programming. 

Investing in this technology to support the neurodiverse community is a moral obligation and a strategic move for the organization as we strive to be the most accessible theatre in South Carolina. 

We believe this is an opportunity to raise awareness and understanding about sensory sensitivities and neurodiversity. Providing an environment accommodating sensory sensitivities can help educate the public about the challenges these individuals may face in everyday situations, including attending theatrical productions. This increased awareness can promote empathy, understanding, and acceptance of neurodiverse individuals.

If you are a donor passionate about these accessibility efforts, please contact Bethany Kern at bethany@scchildrenstheatre.org.