Socially distanced live concerts are back in the line-up this Spring, kicking off with Inclusion Dining & Jams. A sensory-friendly dining and music experience for all ages and abilities, the event will be headlined by Ryan Montbleau on Sunday, April 11, 2021. In addition to Montbleu’s performance, Inclusion Dining and Jams will also feature sensory-friendly music, yoga-inspired dance for all, opportunities for play, flow arts, sing-alongs, inspiring lyrics, mindfulness, collaborative art, and more during the performance. Presented by Accessible Festivals and ArtsQuest, this all inclusive event will be held at MusikFest Café in Bethlehem, PA from 5:30-7:30pm EST.
The Accessible Festivals team has done an outstanding job of making the evening inclusive, starting with the night’s entertainment, with the opening act being 19-year-old autistic piano player Jewels Harrison. Harrison, who has been playing since he was three, will be performing his talented work as people are filing in and finding their seat. Once people are seated, Ryan Montbleau will take stage. Montbleau is the ideal performer for the accessible event because his music provides uplifting, positive messages to help celebrate the power music has to bring people together from every walk of life.
The show and livestream will be presented with accessibility features to support a diverse audience including visual, auditory, cognitive, physical, and sensory support. Live ASL interpreters, captions, and audio and image descriptions will all be available to help promote a positive, inclusive experience.
Because Inclusion Dining and Jams will also be streamed online, captions and ASL interpreters will be available through the livestream as well as. Links for the livestream will be posted on the Accessible Festivals website and social media accounts (@accessiblefestivals), as well as a re-stream of the show posted after the event with all accessibility features included. All donations made through the livestream will go toward Accessible Festivals mission of making music and other forms of recreation more accessible to all abilities.
“We like to put these funds toward our grant program to help other festival and recreation organizers make their events more accessible, whether that’s in person or livestream in this new culture climate,” says Amy Pinder, Executive Director of Accessible Festivals. “We’ve learned in the past year that live streams are really accessible. Some people are not able to come out in person for a variety of different healthcare factors and ability reasons, this helps give another choice.”
For those attending in person, accessible features will be available to view on your phone through a provided QR code, as well as assistance throughout the concert and its events. Advanced audio descriptions will be available for festival attendees to listen to through headphones. The descriptions use vivid language to describe the atmosphere scene around them, making the event beneficial and inclusive for all.
Hanzini, the evening’s engaging host and MC, will be narrating the scene around him using vivid language that will benefit different attendees in different ways, but particularly those who are visually impaired. While audio descriptions are typically described to the individual in need, Inclusion Dining and Jams is the first to build the experience into the event for all attendees to enjoy together in a way that inclusively adds to the event.
“Audio descriptions are a way for individuals who are visually impaired to receive information about the vibe and scene itself around them. While music is a really auditory experience, the scene itself really adds to the experience,” notes Pinder.
The dining aspect of the event comes from the inspiration that eating with family and friends is just as universally appealing as music. Eating is an important part of every culture as a form of bonding and social interaction, and it is just as important for families with special needs members. Sensory support systems will be put into place at the event such as waiting times and an inclusive menu to help create a welcoming atmosphere.
“Families that have children with special needs or adults with special needs sometimes don’t have the time for all the factors it takes to sit down and eat a meal together, so we wanted to provide this experience in a really accessible way. We partnered with local restaurants to put different supports into place to plan a really nice, accessible meal,” says Pinder.
Tickets to both the in-person event and the lifestream can be purchased HERE.