The award-winning Wales Millennium Centre has a commitment to engaging with the disabled community that is as impressive as the building’s iconic design.
Since opening in 2004, the centre has become a world-renowned venue for the arts, but it is also an inclusive meeting place for the local community. The magnificent Donald Gordon Theatre hosts arts events ranging from hip-hop to ballet, opera to musicals, and contemporary dance to stand-up comedy. There are workshop and studio sessions, behind-the-scenes tours, and free daily performances on the foyer stage. Also in demand are the pre-show touch tours, which explore the building’s varied use of tactile materials and reliefs – the centre is as memorable to the touch as it is to the eye. You may come here to see the Welsh National Opera or the BBC Orchestra of Wales. Also resident is Touch Trust, which provides creative touch-based music, art and dance activities for people with profound and multiple disabilities (phone ahead to book a session; 029 2063 5660, www.touchtrust.co.uk). The Trust’s purpose-built suite has a large disabled toilet and changing rooms with a hoist and large changing table.
Theatres can be tricky places for disabled people, but here every effort has been made to make the venue as welcoming and accessible as possible. The centre has seventeen Blue Badge disabled parking bays, all under cover, and bookable in advance (booking fee applies in some cases). There are automatic doors at all entrances, lifts and level access to all areas. Accessible toilets are dotted throughout, and the auditorium has accessible seating and wheelchair access on every level. There are induction loops in all key public areas; audio-described, BSL-interpreted and captioned performances are available; and signage and directions around the building are given in large clear type and raised text – in both Welsh and English Braille.
Food & drink: This is a truly public building, where people can come and go as they please to meet, eat and enjoy. The lounge bar and restaurant ffresh serves pre-show meals, or you can relax with a coffee at Crema or in the Hufen ice-cream parlour.