Stagetext welcomes its newest board members, Ben Glover and Sally Yarwood. Ben is a deaf video designer and creative captioner, bringing a wealth of creativity and industry knowledge with him. Sally is a returning board member, with a long career in finance and a passion for access to the arts.
We believe it’s important to have a board who can support the organisation’s ethos and aims, and who also bring a range of knowledge, skills and lived experience. This is very much the case with our two newest members, so we chatted to Ben and Sally, finding out more about them, their work and what brings them to Stagetext.
Ben’s industry experience and work as a creative captioner is highly valued by Stagetext, so we wanted to find out what kick-started his passion for captions and what they mean to him. ‘I remember seeing Mary Poppins on the West End when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, it was my first West End show.’ He continued, ‘I can’t recall seeing many shows without captions, so I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to have access to captions from a young age.’
Ben added. ‘Captions make me feel welcomed and able to enjoy the experience without worrying about missing words or mishearing things. It enables me to follow along and understand the context fully. Access is very important as it removes barriers, fuels more creativity, passion and ultimately improves arts as a whole’.
Ben’s role as a video designer and creative captioner, means he works as part of the design team on productions. He considers himself fortunate to have worked in a range of art forms, from theatre, dance and virtual reality, with Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Burning Man being among the events he has under his belt.
‘Being deaf, I’m passionate about creative captions and how video technology and design can come together to produce captions that are embedded into a piece of work, making it fully accessible to those who need them. I hope to bring my own experience and perspective of working within the arts to benefit Stagetext as someone working within the industry and following the latest trends with arts and technology.’
With developments in technology being embraced across the creative industries, we asked Ben what he wanted to see captions and deaf access looking like in five years’ time. ‘I hope to see many more shows adopting captions in various forms, ranging from open captions, closed captions and creative captions. I would like to see the trend of more accessible work continue, growing to bigger stages and audiences.’
Finally, we asked, what brings Ben to Stagetext? ‘Stagetext has enabled me to follow my passion and attend many shows over the years, which has fuelled my own career within the arts. I’m grateful to Stagetext as I wouldn’t have the inspiration or motivation otherwise.’
Sally Yarwood was a valued board member from 2017 to 2019. Since 2019 she observed Stagetext’s response to the pandemic and, ‘greatly admired the response and the changes the organisation made, almost overnight’. She now returns as a trustee, bringing a wealth of financial expertise and experience of access to the arts.
We asked Sally about her thoughts on Stagetext’s work and the impact it has. ‘Stagetext’s work is very important to me both personally, as I have hearing loss, and as a supporter of accessibility and inclusivity to the arts.’ She went on to say: ‘There is an important impact on the wider cultural sector, in respect of providing a reminder of the access barriers that exist and how they can be addressed to make a significant improvement to people’s lives.
Sally went to her first captioned performance around ten years ago and is now a regular audience member. We asked her about her first experience of captioning and what advice she had for someone who had never seen a captioned show or subtitled event. ‘I think my first captioned theatre experience was a National Theatre production. I don’t recall which performance it was, but I do remember the wonderful experience of being able to follow the whole performance, without missing anything, even when the actors turned away from the stage, making lipreading impossible. It was a revelation!
‘For people who have not been to a captioned event, my biggest piece of advice is, please do give it a try. If you find subtitles helpful to follow the script on your TV at home or at the cinema, then you may find captions and subtitles help you during live performances.’
Sally elaborated on her return to Stagetext’s board. ‘These are exciting times to be a board member in the world of access, especially given the different and varied technology being developed worldwide, it’s great to be part of this evolving, developing landscape’. She finished by telling us she is ‘delighted to be re-elected as a Trustee’.
If you want to know more about any of Stagetext’s voluntary roles or how to get involved, please contact us.