Audio described circus show hits Milton Keynes for visually impaired children

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Sunday saw the welcome return of Circus Starr to Milton Keynes Irish Centre with its unique brand of relaxed and inclusive shows for children with different needs and from low income families.

It is a once a year treat for many who are often excluded from the arts due to lack of accessibility or affordability.

Created and developed by Phillip Gandey, this year’s show was full of eastern promise with an amazing line up of internationally acclaimed circus talent. The Tangier Brothers acrobatic troupe made their debut this tour with their distinctive blue and yellow canopy with their jaw-dropping act on the “space wheel”.

Founded 29 years ago, Circus Starr is continually striving to be the most inclusive touring circus show.

This year Circus Starr has teamed up with VocalEyes – the nationwide audio description charity – to pilot touch tours and audio described performances in several locations, including Milton Keynes.

Circus Starr’s director Neville Wilson, said: “We are incredibly excited about working with VocalEyes on this pilot project to enhance the enjoyment of our show for children who are blind or partially sighted.

“We are gleaning a much better understanding of the needs of this audience and are keen to find a way to integrate audio description and touch tours across all our tours and be the first UK touring Big Top circus to do so.”

VocalEye’s audio describer Roz Chalmers led a pre-show touch tour and gave live commentary on all the circus action for a group of children Milton Keynes based Victa charity.

Emma Knight’s daughter was one of the children involved in the project, she said: “Kyla really enjoyed the show - she has been for a few years now and on Sunday afternoon when she came home she was non-stop talking about everything.

“She loved the touch tour as she got to touch various equipment and meet some of the entertainers and in turn this helped her to understand a bit more about the show and how it is put together.

“She also really appreciated the audio description as this was the first time this has been available.”

All Circus Starr tickets are pre-allocated free of charge to children with additional needs or from underprivileged families so they can leave their worries behind and escape to the circus for a few hours to be part of its magic.

Local businesses in each of the towns on the tour make it all possible by pledging thousands of pounds to fund the donated ticket programme and give back to their communities.

For more information, visit: www.circus-starr.org.uk