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The REP Receives State Diversity & Inclusion Award

Orlando Repertory Theatre (The REP) is proud to announce an award from Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs through their Diversity & Inclusion Awards Program, recognizing the efforts of individuals working to make arts and cultural programming in Florida as diverse and inclusive as possible. The REP was honored with the award for its exceptional work through its ongoing Sensory-Friendly Series, creating access to theatre for audiences with autism, Asperger's, and other sensory needs.

"The REP's contributions to Florida's cultural community are immeasurable," says David Odahowski, President and CEO of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation. "Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation is proud to sponsor the Sensory-Friendly Series, and help make theater and the arts accessible to a wider audience."

"For a few years, we explored adding Sensory-Friendly shows to our programming, as we knew there were so many children and families who miss the opportunity to experience live theatre," says The REP's Artistic Director, Jeff Revels. "We finally took the jump a few years back and there is no going back! When a mother tells you that her non-verbal child said their first word ever in response to a song in the show, you know that you are doing work that is meant to be!"

The Diversity & Inclusion Awards Program recognizes innovative and exceptional efforts that promote diversity in arts and cultural programming. The diversity in nominated programs represents efforts to broaden the reach of individuals engaged in cultural programming in Florida. Inclusion addresses the programs and organizational strategies that welcome and embrace the strengths and perspectives each person involved contributes. Recipients receive a monetary award in addition to public recognition and a presented award at the statewide Convening Culture Conference, held in Fort Lauderdale, FL in February.

Since piloting this program in March 2013, The REP has offered 10 Sensory-Friendly Performances of 8 different show titles. The theatre has welcomed nearly 1,000 patrons to the theatre in that time and received significant feedback from the Autism community that there is a need for this programming in Central Florida.

In 2013, The REP was asked by Dallas Children's Theatre to be a consulting partner as they developed their own Sensory-Friendly programming. This partnership between The REP, Dallas Children's Theatre, and Nashville Children's Theatre was part of a major grant by national funder Theatre Communications Group. The REP served as a consultant, partner, and adviser to DCT's staff as they developed their programs. Their Associate Artistic Director & Education Director Nancy Schaeffer writes: "If it were not for The REP, we likely would have experienced nothing close to this level of success." After returning from Dallas, The REP shared these best practices with the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, so that these families with have access to even more cultural programming.

The REP's next Sensory-Friendly presentation is the upcoming performance of Skippyjon Jones on March 13 at 5:30pm. All performances of take place at Orlando Repertory Theatre, located at 1001 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803. Tickets start at $14 and may be purchased online, over the phone, or at the Box Office. Please visit www.orlandorep.com or call 407-896-7365 for more information.


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