Shining a spotlight on Miami-Dade’s inclusive entertainment
Published: September 28, 2019
By: Joanna Kentolall
The arts and entertainment season will soon be in full swing. Children of all ages are excited to see what’s coming to the stage and screen to delight the senses. But what if your little one’s senses are limited or can be affected by loud noises and bright lights?
Engaging with the arts can be difficult for children and adults with mental or physical challenges. But local organizations are working to help change that by making entertainment
South Florida venues are expanding access to provide people with and without disabilities the same opportunity to attend, participate in and appreciate the arts. For example, assistive-listening devices are available to amplify sound and audio description provides an explanation of the action. Open captioning displays dialogue on a screen and individuals on the autism spectrum can enjoy sensory-friendly options at select live performances, movie screenings and museum exhibits.
A group helping to facilitate these types of programs locally is The Florida Access Coalition for the Arts, which brings regional players together to help promote and provide equal access for all.
“No one should feel singled out because of a disability,” said board member Lew Balaban. “It’s important to get the word out that these types of performances exist and are out there for everyone.”
Here are examples of what’s available:
THEATER: At Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, listening devices, audio description, open captioning, sign interpretation and touch tours are available at certain shows.
At Aventura Center for the Performing Arts, select performances create a sensory-friendly setting, including reduced sound levels, no flashing or strobe lights, minimal special effects and a quiet zone adjacent to the theater.
MUSEUM: Miami Children’s Museum offers sensory-friendly experiences on the second Saturday of the month. Limited admission, along with sound and lighting adjustments, provide a more supportive setting.
DANCE: Miami City Ballet provides Touch Tours for those with visual impairments. Before select shows, patrons can explore elaborate costumes, props and sets by physically feeling items. During the actual performance, a live narration provides context and allows visitors additional input for a richer experience.
OPERA: The Florida Grand Opera coordinates with the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to obtain braille and large-print copies of the libretto (translation of the opera), which are made available to audience members during performances. FGO says it is the only opera company in the country that provides this service. For open captioning, performances are translated on a digital screen because each opera is sung in its original language.
CINEMA: Sensory-friendly films are shown with the lights turned up and the volume turned down. These are available at the Museum of Discovery and Science/AutoNation IMAX Theater in Fort Lauderdale, as well as select AMC and Regal theatres. Audiences who might not feel comfortable in a traditional movie setting are invited to these specially tailored showings.
OUTDOOR ART: A multi-sensory mural specifically designed for the visually impaired is located outside of the Lighthouse for the Blind in Fort Lauderdale. Brought to life by Cadence Landscape Architecture, it features textured shapes that can be felt and an aromatic diffuser for scent, and it also incorporates sound. Visually-impaired individuals helped to create the mural last year.
Lighthouse for the Blind President and CEO Ellyn Drotzer is proud that the artwork remains as a reminder that everyone can succeed in the arts. Another example of that type of success happened on a national stage earlier this year when, for the first time, a wheelchair-user won a Tony Award. Ali Stroker won Best Featured Actress for her role in the musical revival Oklahoma! The win was an inspiration to many who might think theater is out of their reach. But Drotzer says the arts can inspire anyone to take center stage.
“We are constantly finding ways to expose the population to different opportunities,” she says. “That can be in the arts as well. The arts can be a passion and also a profession. Nothing is off limits.”
Upcoming Inclusive Events
Please visit each venue’s website for a complete schedule of events and performances. Details are subject to change, so please contact the venue before going.
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Open Captioning, Audio Description
Fiddler on the Roof, Nov. 3, 1pm
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
Jan. 5, 2020, 1pm
Sign-Interpreted Fiddler on the Roof, Nov. 2, 2pm
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
Jan. 4, 2020, 2pm
Florida Grand Opera
Open captioning with language translations, and braille and large-print versions of the libretto available at all performances.
Don Giovanni, Nov. 16, 7pm; Nov. 19, 8pm;
Nov. 21, 8pm; Nov. 24, 2pm
Madama Butterfly, Jan. 18, 2020, 6pm;
Jan. 21, 8pm; Jan. 23, 8pm; Jan. 26, 2pm
Miami City Ballet
Touch Tour, Audio Description
The Nutcracker, Dec. 22, 11:30am tour, ballet 1pm
Miami Children’s Museum
Sensory Saturdays: every second Saturday of the month.
Sensory-friendly films: the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Locations include AMC Aventura 24 and AMC Sunset Place 24 in South Miami.
Sensory-friendly films: beginning at 10:30am on the second and fourth Saturday of the month, at select theaters.