National Autism Award for Sunderland Empire

Written by on 6th December 2017

Sunderland’s Empire Theatre took centre stage themselves to receive the Member’s Award from Action for Children’s Arts, for their autism specific projects. 

The award recognises the work of the Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire, specifically in the field of Relaxed Performances.

Hollie Coxon and Anthony Hope from Sunderland Empire were nominated by Dr Chris Abbott, Trustee of Actions for Children’s Arts Charity and the judge’s decision was unanimous, choosing Creative Learning as a winner of this highly regarded recognition.

Member’s Awards are presented to individuals and organisations whose work makes an outstanding contribution to ACA’s aim of enriching children’s lives through the arts.

Hollie Coxon, Creative Learning Manager, Sunderland Empire said: “Winning the greatly coveted ACA Member’s award and sharing such highly regarded recognition of our Relaxed Performance, will make such a huge difference in raising the profile of this importance of inclusivity, which we are so passionate about.”

“The recognition from Action for Children’s Arts will make such a difference in supporting us to continue to grow our Autism offer together with the North East Autism Society (NEAS) and other partners, alongside local families and groups.

“We’re privileged to have the opportunity to share best practise on behalf of the cultural sector. Not only are we able to share our inclusive approaches and knowledge with local partners, but we also join our sector in London to put a spotlight on Sunderland and the cities ambition.”

The team have worked on a host of inclusive projects which engage groups, special schools and families in Creative Learning activities, to complement the growing programme of outstanding Relaxed Performances.

The North East Autism Society have been an integral part of Sunderland Empires Relaxed Performance journey, as well as supporting numerous engagement projects as part of the Creative Learning programme.

By sharing and developing with local cultural partners; families, groups and individuals with additional needs such as Autism are able to access Sunderland’s broad Autism Friendly cultural offering at multiple venues across the city.

This years Relaxed Performance is Jack and the Beanstalk on 27th December at 5pm and is primarily designed for patrons who may be concerned about attending a theatrical performance and may find visiting the theatre daunting.

They are informal performances that are designed to benefit patrons with additional needs, such as autism, ADHD, dementia, young children or anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.

For further information about the Relaxed Performance call 0191 566 1054 (During office hours Monday-Friday) or email

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