A new multi-arts centre heralded as transforming the cultural landscape is already reaping the results of its inclusive approach.
Storyhouse in Chester is a £37million facility, mainly funded by Cheshire West & Chester Council, combining library, two theatres, a cinema, restaurant and bars, in what was the city’s Grade II listed art deco style Odeon. One of the core aims has been to create a venue for community and diversity, reaching audiences who wouldn’t otherwise even consider visiting the theatre.
And to help ensure people who wouldn’t otherwise visit can do so, the building has been designed to be fully accessible on all levels- through to the toilets! Ramp access facilitates entry, a lift covers every storey, wheelchair spaces are available in the theatre, studio and cinema, there is a low level counter in the café, standard accessible toilets are available on every floor, with the ground floor having one of Closomat’s state-of-the-art Changing Places toilet facilities.
The Changing Places means anyone who needs extra support to go to the toilet can do so, safe in the knowledge there is the space and equipment: bigger than a conventional wheelchair accessible toilet, Closomat’s Changing Places at Storyhouse includes a WC, ceiling track hoist, adult sized height-adjustable changing bench, privacy screen and height-adjustable wash basin.
Alex Clfton, artistic director, Storyhouse, said,
We want Storyhouse to be a place for everyone. No-one should be excluded from seeing theatre or film, or exploringour spaces because of a disability. The disabled visitors we have had have been heartened to find the Changing Places toilet: in fact, Storyhouse is being used as an exemplar scheme for an accessible toilet design toolkit!