The Safety House Guide Drives Push For Accessibility In Australian Arts Festival Landscape
On Tuesday 29th of January, in a discussion around increasing accessibility in the Australian Arts scene, 3AW Radio personality Neil Mitchell referred to independent arts publication The Safety House Guide as "the comedy police". The comment came as part of Neil's attack on the publication for offering audience content warnings for difficult topics, raising concerns of "political correctness" and not being able to joke about certain topics nowadays, securing his place as premier voice of archaic takes.
In the lead-up to their Adelaide Fringe and MICF launches, the Safety House Guide team would like to dispel some myths and clarify their purpose and ethos.
The Safety House Guide is produced by internationally acclaimed comedian and Hedonism Muse, Lisa-Skye, who believes that comedy should be for everyone. Launched in 2018 at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Guide promotes punching up, inclusivity, and accessibility of all kinds through detailed information about shows, allowing punters to make informed decisions and matching artists with their perfect audiences.
From Founder and Editor-in-Chief Lisa-Skye: 'By providing a more detailed guide to the comedy festival, we aim to shift the culture of the comedy industry both for artists and audiences to allow better access to a broader audience. Our guide offers information ranging from physical factors such as how many stairs a venue has, to content details like level of audience participation for shyer punters. All this empowers audiences to find shows suitable for their individual needs, to take a calculated risk on a new show, and to support new talent. It also prompts the acts in the guide to consider barriers to access for their potential audiences, with the goal of long-term progress and improvements in access for all.
'We are not the comedy police, and we don't filter shows that appear in the guide based on content, beyond making sure they punch up, not down. We believe smart, edgy comedy grows from this. We know our comedy community can do better, our audiences deserve better, the community deserves better, future generations deserve better. As a community of comedians in a workplace, we deserve better.
'As for Neil Mitchell calling us the comedy police, I get that outrage sells Bertocchi hams, and that to do that he needs to find the controversial angle, but that's just not the space we occupy. This guide is a celebration of live performance being for everybody'.
The Safety House are encouraging collaborative dialogue within the community, so performers and venues become proactive about accessibility, making live performance more available to audiences who often stay home during the festival.
The Safety House Guide will be available free for collection at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Collection points and the digital guide can be found at safetyhouseguide.org. Learn more about the Safety House Guide, and see the huge amount of community support at: pozible.com/project/the-safety-house-guide-2019