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A group of young school children and two Hijinx actors, who are dressed in spaceman costumes, standing in a street. Two children are high-fiving one of the Hijinx actors.

Severn Screen & Hijinx

The Challenge

  • To reach new audiences across Wales and internationally.
  • To strengthen brand recognition across Wales.
  • To demonstrate the company’s commitment to inclusive working.
  • To build the skills and experience of staff when working inclusively.
  • To demonstrate best practice in authentically inclusive theatre and film making and increase the representation of learning disabled and/or autistic people in the arts and wider society.

The Solution

Severn Screen extended its support of Hijinx to sponsor the Unity Festival, one of Europe’s largest disability and inclusive arts festivals and the only one of its kind in Wales;

CultureStep funded professional industry experiences for Hijinx actors with learning disabilities and / or autism at the Festival and contributed to the cost of costumes and materials for Academy actors’ performances.

The Results

The support of Severn Screen and CultureStep enabled Hijinx to introduce its first ever Unity Film Festival. It delivered 73 performances and 29 films created by artists with disabilities, or ensembles of artists both with and without disabilities. The Film Festival engaged over 550 people in Cardiff, Llanelli and Bangor, over 260 online, and almost 8,600 during the Unity Festival as a whole.

Half of the audience were new to Hijinx Unity, with 38% seeing inclusive performance for the first time. Sixty school children from three primary schools in Bangor enjoyed a specially curated programme of free performances.

The festival increased the confidence, independence and professional skills of 63 Hijinx actors with learning disabilities, who had the opportunity to develop and present their own work as part of the festival. It also provided opportunities for 76 disabled, learning disabled, and non-disabled artists from across the world to perform on a high-profile platform. Unity also offered employment to 32 Wales-based freelance creatives, 18 volunteers, five university placement roles for young people and 24 people as crew, stewards, administrators, and marketers.

CultureStep provided paid industry-focused experiences for four learning-disabled actors. This proved to be a very enriching experience, enabling them to attend Q&As and industry panel discussions as paid panellists, taking audience questions and meeting international film-makers, producers and actors, as equal partners, at each festival venue.

The Endorsement

The festival provided Severn Screen with a fantastic new marketing opportunity to reach new audiences and to strengthen its brand across Wales, demonstrating connection and commitment to making the arts accessible to everybody, increasing the representation of marginalised groups on stage and screen, and widening the demographic of those they employ. Severn screen benefitted from promotion of Severn Screen principles to the wider industry and public, the opportunity to explore how screen content could be made in an authentically inclusive way, grow its brand internationally and is recognised across Europe and beyond as exemplars of inclusive practice.

Mathew Talfan, Severn Screen

Having Severn Screen’s name linked to the festival helped elevate the event and Hijinx’s standing in the film and TV world. Importantly, this then raises the prominence of our mission to improve representation in a meaningful, authentic way. Further benefits of being able to work with, and draw on the contacts and expertise of such a large and internationally-renowned company, and sharing each other’s social media posts, particularly around the festival but also on others, has allowed us to increase our reach significantly. The support also allowed us to unveil our ReFocus project, designed to help the wider screen industries work more inclusively, to industry figures, both freelance and as organisations, which will eventually provide another – significant – revenue stream to our organisation and improve the lives, creative and otherwise, of many under-represented actors.

Greta Bettinson, Hijinx Theatre