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Heritage Open Days Exhibition at The Stade Hastings.

Accentuate Medal 7: Accentuate ensures the South East is Accessible and Welcoming to Deaf and disabled visitors

As a result of Accentuate projects, just over 1000 businesses in the South East have increased their skills and knowledge in improving access to venues and events.

Two key projects which have significantly contributed to this achievement are Creative Landscapes and Destination Zones.  Creative Landscapes have been working closely with The Heritage Open Days Programme which this year, will take place on 6-9th September in Hastings, St Leonards and Gosport.  You can find out more about some of the activity that is going on in these two locations by downloading the brochures from

Established by English Heritage, Creative Landscapes worked with disabled people from the outset, to find accessible and creative approaches to exploring and sharing our heritage. The project in turn commissioned deaf and disabled artists and arts organisations to undertake residencies, working with people to enable them to explore their heritage in a creative way.

Gosport HODs now has an active Inclusion Group that in 2011 supported eight HODs events with extra accessible features. Over 400 disabled visitors came to HODs events in 2011, with organisations such as the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower and the Submarine Museum building their links with local disabled people including veterans from St Dunstans, to improve their offer through handling events and BSL interpreted tours. Holy Trinity Church also successfully raised money for a permanent hearing loop.

In one of the artist’s residencies in Hastings, Lynn Weddle worked with young photographers from Sussex Autism to photograph The Stade. The group created a film of their work that was shown at The Shipwreck Centre as part of Heritage Open Days. Lynn also took her own photographs focussing on the fishing community working on The Stade and created a photo trail for Heritage Open Days. In 2011, The Stade Education Project hosted an exhibition of Lynn’s photographs for Heritage Open Days, attracting over 700 visitors.  The residency also encouraged Lynn Weddle to submit a successful Arts for Everyone (A4E) grant application to the Arts Council to develop her own project.

Creative Landscapes has provided intensive engagement with local communities over three years to open up the National Heritage Open Days programmes to local people.  Find out later this week how Accentuate is going to further develop this work on a national stage in 2013 through Accentuate Heritage.

Although Creative Landscapes comes to an end in 2012, Heritage Open Days in the town will continue, with a Steering Committee that includes the Head of Tourism and local businesses working alongside heritage groups.

‘Creative Landscapes has had a tremendous impact. Due to the advice and expertise of the Inclusion Group, event organisers became more aware that providing inclusive access was not such an onerous and expensive exercise as they had imagined.’ Richard Sturgess, Gosport & Fareham Access Officer

In parallel to Creative Landscapes, the Destination Zones initiative has been able to offer access audits and “Welcome All” training at extremely competitive rates, to destinations keen to find out how to improve the facilities they offer to their disabled visitors. Led by Tourism South East and funded by Accentuate, the project has to date enabled 15 access audits to be completed across the South East region, including in Buckinghamshire, Kent, Plumpton Racecourse and Sevenoaks, where the Paralympic Cycle event is being hosted at Brands Hatch. 

Tourism South East believes that a major investment of £2.5m on improvements to the rail infrastructure in Buckinghamshire was heavily influenced by the Destination Zones access audit. There is also evidence that 27 key destination sites and 6 key transport hubs have been improved for the benefit of disabled visitors, in relation to both the Destination Zones and Creative Landscapes projects.


In addition to the Access Audits, Accentuate funding has helped connect national programmes to local people, by providing subsidised places for the National ‘Welcome All’ training. The training was led by disabled trainers and attended by over 600 people working in the Service Industry, across the South East, aiming to ensure disabled visitors get the best service and welcome when visiting the region.

Accentuate is the London 2012 Legacy Programme for the South East.  Accentuate has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK, SEEDA and the Regional Cultural Agencies.   Screen South is the home of Accentuate.

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