River Clyde Pageant aims for broader reach with new accessibility plan

·2 min read
Ian McFarlane with a whale puppet created for the River Clyde Pageant. (River Clyde Pageant - image credit)
Ian McFarlane with a whale puppet created for the River Clyde Pageant. (River Clyde Pageant - image credit)

P.E.I.'s River Clyde Pageant has developed a new plan to become more accessible both physically and culturally.

Co-producer Ian McFarlane told Island Morning host Laura Chapin that the plan came out of a larger consultation with the community, as is appropriate for a community-led event.

"Through that process we learned that there are a lot of barriers that people face, both in watching the show but also in participating in the show," said McFarlane.

The pageant typically includes 100 to 150 performers, and because it takes place in New Glasgow, a rural area, simply getting to the venue for rehearsals and performances is a barrier and one that has only grown higher with increasing gas prices.

Robert Van Waarden/The River Clyde Pageant
Robert Van Waarden/The River Clyde Pageant

The pageant will organize carpooling this year to lower that barrier.

It is also looking to increase multicultural performances, and include refugees and immigrants in the company.

'We work in a landscape'

The very nature of the show can also create challenges.

The performance is not just in one location. The way the show is designed the audience moves along the river with the performers.

"We work in a landscape, and we're really excited about bringing attention to ecological challenges and discussions around climate change and how the arts can illuminate those discussions. Creating theatre in a landscape, outdoors, is really, really inspiring," said McFarlane.

"But with that comes barriers of uneven walking surface."

Last year the pageant started offering golf carts to audience members. And it learned that making services available is only step one. Letting people know those services are available is another. In the first week of performances, the golf carts were often empty, but they began to fill up as people heard about them.

The pageant will have captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing this year and is thinking about ways of assisting people with allergies.

The River Clyde Pageant does not consider the accessibility plan to be complete, said McFarlane. It will survey company and audience members this summer as it continues to find ways to improve.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting