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Young girl smiles at camera next to other children and adults laying on bean bags in a cinema, watching a film
Expanding the Frame, touch screen Credit: Will Pace 2023

Expanding the Frame will open doors and break down barriers for disabled audiences

Midlands Arts Centre have announced a three-year project supported by Film Hub Midlands entitled Expanding the Frame. The initiative seeks to significantly improve access to cinema for disabled audiences in the West Midlands.

With Film Hub Midlands’ support, MAC will pilot new programmes and events, ensuring that disabled people with long-standing physical and/or mental conditions and those identifying as D/deaf or neurodivergent can experience film in an accessible environment.

In the first year, Expanding the Frame will rapidly increase the number of screenings featuring Closed Captions and Audio Description across our programme, as well as launching a new monthly sensory screening in conjunction with the team behind MAC’s popular Colour Box family screenings.

David Baldwin, MAC Cinema and Screen Producer, said: “Up until now, MAC cinema has done a fair amount in terms of increasing access to cinema for disabled audiences, but nowhere near enough. This partnership will enable us to literally double the amount of accessible screenings we already do to open up our exciting cinema programme to more audiences.”

The first year will also feature a season of films which look at how disabled people have been portrayed on screen, put together by Conor O’Donovan, a guest programmer with lived experience of disability who is keen to get audiences to think beyond the usual tropes.

Conor O’Donovan, Guest Programmer for Expanding the Frame, said: “It’s a season of film that aims to show disabled people are just that – people. I hope the collection informs, enlightens and ultimately entertains to show the colourful and wild lives disabled people have. Just like any person.”

The project will also allow MAC’s Associate Cinema Programmer, Elaine Lillian Joseph, to utilise her extensive experience working within the world of audio description, ensuring that even more of the arts charity’s new release films are open to the visually impaired.

Elaine Lillian Joseph, Associate Programmer, said: “Expanding the Frame isn’t a one-off season. Expect an increase in film screenings with audio description in the coming months. We want blind or partially sighted people and people with visual impairments to leave the cinema with the same buzz as sighted viewers. Audio description is an art and a necessity, and we are committed to raising its profile at MAC.”

Expanding the Frame looks to make meaningful changes to cinema programming, promoting a culture of disability equity in the arts sector.