Wales’ Hynt access scheme increases theatre and venue visits

A newly published impact report on Hynt, the national access scheme for theatres and arts centres in Wales, shows an increase in theatre attendance and an improved quality of life for disabled audience members in Wales.

Hynt is an Arts Council of Wales initiative, managed by Creu Cymru in partnership with Diverse Cymru. In March 2014, Arts Council of Wales (ACW) appointed Creu Cymru to work in partnership with Diverse Cymru to deliver a single national access scheme for customers with disabilities and their essential companions. Hynt was developed with and by disabled people, the third sector, theatres and arts centres.

The report, funded by Arts Council England, makes a number of recommendations for future developments for the scheme and ACW, such as improving data collection and marketing but the main message is to build on the success of nearly a decade of Hynt.

As of October 2023, the scheme has issued 29,866 cards to members to be able to use their Hynt cards in more than 41 theatres and arts centres and associate venues across Wales. These organisations pay to be part of Hynt and as a network receive staff training, an annual symposium and an opportunity to share best practice and learning.

Some of the highlights from the report include:

  • 76 per cent of cardholders said being part of the scheme improved their access to culture.
  • 89 per cent would go to the theatre less without their Hynt card and 14 per cent would not go at all.
  • 82 per cent say Hynt makes going to the theatre more affordable.
  • 68 per cent report that the scheme improves their physical access to venues.
  • 52 per cent say they are better able to access content.
  • 81 per cent of cardholders report Hynt increases the amount of social interaction in their lives.

As a result of being part of the scheme, cardholders visited theatre 75 per cent more. This resulted in 144,000 more theatre visits across Wales, half of which were full price tickets. Furthermore, 58 per cent of cardholders said they visited a new venue as a result of Hynt.

For every complimentary ticket venues gave to Hynt cardholders, they made an average of £23.53 in additional revenue.

In addition, local economies surrounding Hynt venues benefit to the tune of £3,261,200 a year.

In addition, venues that operate the scheme generate £42.33 in additional value for every complimentary ticket they give away.

The success of Hynt in Wales has inspired the arts development agencies of the other UK nations to develop a UK wide version of the scheme, further details of which will be announced shortly by Arts Council England.

Megan Merrett, project manager of Hynt, said: “This report is a powerful reflection of the impact of Hynt on Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audience experiences. The recommendations will help us to develop Hynt with our project advisory group, member venues and associates. I’m excited to see Hynt grow and I’m glad to have been involved in creating a more consistent offer for our cardholders and their essential companions.”

Dafydd Rhys, chief executive of Arts Council of Wales, said: “The Arts Council of Wales are incredibly proud of Hynt, a programme which was developed from conversations with a member of the public who wondered why his disabled son – an avid theatre lover – couldn’t have the same level of service across all venues in Wales. Thus began a ground-breaking initiative taken forward on our behalf by Creu Cymru which, as this research now illustrates, has changed the lives of many disabled visitors and their personal assistants/carers across Wales. The statistics are impressive and represent a real and positive impact for venues and companies, but perhaps the biggest success story is for disabled attenders. We will celebrate this success here in Wales as we continue to lead the way with Hynt, and will work with colleagues in the other UK Nations to shape a programme to make sure that these benefits are spread further afield and will promote accessibility to high quality arts events.”