Theatre access charity Stagetext has today announced its largest ever audience for an online event.
Last week’s free live stream of Phantom of the Opera had a massive audience of 12.8 million viewers around the world. A staggering 2.5 million viewers watched with accessible subtitles provided by Stagetext, the UK charity that provides and promotes accessible captions and subtitles for theatres and museums.
Since the closure of UK theatres, Stagetext has been working closely with leading theatres and production companies to make their online content open and fully accessible to d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences. By offering more than automated or poor-quality subtitles, d/Deaf theatre goers have been given full access to some of the UKs biggest theatre productions.
Hala Hashem, a member of Stagetext’s user panel, said: ‘In four weeks of “stay at home” I have watched six theatre productions, which has only been possible thanks to the subtitles. As an avid theatre goer who is profoundly deaf, this has been a very welcome change. I hope the use of subtitles increases and continues beyond the pandemic’.
There are 11 million d/Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing people in the UK, who could benefit from subtitles and would otherwise be excluded from the information and entertainment on offer. A lack of subtitles and access to information can lead to further feelings of isolation, on top of the restrictions resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Although Stagetext advocates for d/Deaf audiences, they know that subtitles have additional benefits for other audiences, such as improving literacy in children. They are increasingly being used by hearing audiences too.
Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive of Stagetext hopes the move to provide subtitles is a lasting one, ‘2.5 million people decided they needed subtitles for the spoken and sung dialogue in Phantom Of The Opera. Not all of these people will be d/Deaf but it proves the demand is there. Subtitles aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity for the 11 million d/Deaf deafened and hard of hearing people in the UK today’.
Stagetext is subtitling the remainder of the productions due to be released on The Show Must Go On channel. The next show to stream is the sequel to Phantom, Love Never Dies, which streams at 7pm, Friday 24th April 2020.