The Performing Arts Access Program (PAAP) was a two year initiative of Picasso PRO and Creative Trust, made possible by the generous sponsorship of Sun Life Financial, to help expand access to the performing arts through Audio Description (AD) for Blind /Low-Vision Audiences and ASL Interpretation for Deaf/Hard of Hearing audiences. The process was meant to assist theatre, dance and music companies to launch and integrate these services into their organizational cultures and programming. 

LAUNCH OF INITIATIVE: NOVEMBER 23, 2009 With attendance and participation from approximately 30 Creative Trust member companies, Board members and invited guests. Guest speakers from the Deaf/HOH and blind/LV communities. Press Release distributed widely to CT and Picasso PRO’s media and professional and community arts networks.

 DESCRIBER TRAINING: OUTREACH, AUDITIONS, TRAINING: FEB-MARCH 2010 A Call for Trainees produced 40 responses within two weeks. Of these, 18 were auditioned and a special selection process yielded 8 Audio Description candidates, trained by specialist Deb Lewis  founder of Arts Access Alliance California, with the assistance of Auditions Coordinator Caroline Hollway and under the guidance of Picasso PRO Manager Rose Jacobson. An Expert Audience Team is formed to guide the process on an ongoing basis: Wanda Fitzgerald and Durelle Harford McAllister

Audio Describers trained: Peter Cavell; Krista Dalby; Jane Field; Kat Germain; Kat Leonard; Elizabeth Saunders; Rebecca Singh; Aaron Talbot

Equipment Research, Purchase, and Training:  Purchase of audio description kit, handbook creation and orientation, training and try-out of equipment usage in a controlled environment ; technical set-up, sound tests etc. at theatre



OASLI (ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS): APRIL 25, 2010: Roundtable for ASLInterpreters (OASLI members) on specifics of Theatrical Interpretation co-led by Rose Jacobson and Interpreting Advisor Joanna Bennett; ongoing relationship building

THEATRICAL INTERPRETERS WORKSHOP JANUARY 14-15 2012Master Theatrical Interpreter/Picasso PRO Advisor Joanna Bennett crafts a seminal two day workshop for professional, emerging and student Interpreters wishing to learn more and try out our approach – Integrated Theatrical Interpretation – where interpreters share the stage actively with the performers. The workshop uses a scene from our interpreted production of Montparnasse as its focal point. 18 Interpreters attend.



FACTORY THEATRE MAY-JUNE 2010: Start of practicum process for new describers in cooperation with Factory Theatre during the rehearsals and run of Featuring Loretta. In-house test-described show without public audience.

FACTORY THEATRE NOVEMBER 2010: Audio describers describe Bethune Imagined at Toronto’s Factory Theatre, followed by a reception for the audience.

 TARRAGON THEATRE MARCH 2011: Audio Describers describe More Fine Girls a co-production of Tarragon Theatre and Theatre Columbus. Each performance is preceded by a dry run, audited rehearsals and many preparations. Attendance for performances above: approx. 300 per house; includes 20 Blind patrons and approx. 10 companions



TI is offered in integrated form, in which the interpreters are onstage with the actors.

FACTORY THEATRE MARCH 2011: Two performances of Brothel at Factory Theatre, featuring 3 onstage interpreters: Mary Zaiser, Scott Garant and Cindy Muskat.

THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE MARCH 2011: Two performances of Montparnasse, a Groundwater Theatre production in association with TPM. Our Project Advisor and ace Interpreter Joanna Bennett interpreted solo for Montparnasse.

AUDIENCE: Attendance for performances above: approx 300 per house; includes Deaf patrons/companions. Based on available tracking, 100+ new audience members are captured during Factory’s AD and ASL productions. TPM identifies 30 Deaf patrons for the two performances of Montparnasse. Headsets are booked to the maximum of 20 for each audio described show and patrons offer generous post-show feedback. Deaf Community Consultants Anita Harding and Mitchell LaFrance liaise with Deaf audiences and oversee post-show video feedback corner in the lobby after each interpreted performance.

 Creative Trust Blog  becomes central portal to all Picasso PRO and PAAP Access information;  see archived features posted by Rose Jacobson and Jini Stolk



We garner an excellent feature about our access program on the popular Torontoist blog site:

TACTV/AMI[Accessible Media Inc] covers the inaugural AD performance at Factory Theatre and streams the story several times since Jan 2011.

PODCAST INTERVIEW:ENO[Enabling Not-for-profitsOntario] streams podcast interview with Rose Jacobson to ONN network in May 2011

GREEN PEAR REVIEW arts and culture periodical and blogsite Slide show and notes from Interpreters workshop, Jan 2012

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