The Umbrella Club – Brighton Dome’s membership club for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their siblings and carers – launched its new season this week with an entrancing puppetry production of Michael Rosen’s much-loved children’s classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
Brought to life by Little Angel Theatre, the thrilling and funny adventure was the first in an array of events which Umbrella Club participants will be able to enjoy this season at Brighton Dome through the scheme which aims to offer access to the arts through the provision of free tickets to live performances and workshops, as well as special meet the cast sessions after selected shows.
Now in its second year, the Umbrella Club has enabled around 400 poorly children, siblings and families to attend over 30 performances since the club’s inception, ensuring their continued access to the arts and the creation of some wonderful memories.
A parent of one of the Umbrella Club members said: “’We find there’s few options of things to do and places to take our son. [Umbrella Club] caters for his needs, he’s well looked after and . . he enjoys the shows because of that.’ Another participant added: “[It} is something that our whole family can enjoy together.
Last year the Umbrella Club opened its reach beyond Brighton Dome – with the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Toy Museum signing up to offer their own free tickets and services to Umbrella Club families. The longer term ambition is to extend the scheme throughout the city and further partnerships with local arts and cultural organisations are actively being sought.
Other shows Umbrella Club members can enjoy this season include award-winning choreographer Akram Khan and his eponymous Company who adapt his critically acclaimed production DESH for a family audience in Chotto Desh (27 Oct); Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (3 & 4 Nov), New York’s all-male professional comedy ballet company; The Forest (Sat 5 Dec), a multi-sensory adventure through a mystical forest for audiences with PMLD and Pirates of the Carabina’s hilarious circus show Flown (19 – 27 Dec).
The Umbrella Club works with Chestnut Tree House, Sussex’s only children’s hospice and is supported by a number of organisations including BBC Children In Need, The Montefiore Hospital and Gatwick Airport The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Sobell Foundation.
Andrew Comben, CEO Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “The Umbrella Club is an invaluable way to ensure these children, their siblings and their carers are able to access the arts and hopefully share some memorable experiences. We are grateful to all the funders and supporters that make it possible for us to provide this invaluable scheme as part of our on-going work to make Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival events more accessible for all.”
As a registered charity Brighton Dome relies on the generous support of the community in order to continue to deliver a varied range of outreach projects such as the Umbrella Club. For more information about how your organisation can be involved please visit http://brightondome.org/join_in/live_projects/umbrella_club/