I love the BBC Proms. There is no more varied, high-quality festival of classical music. But, I was shocked to read the headline on the Royal Albert Hall’s website: ‘Six fantastic concerts for all the family’. Six?! Out of how many, I wondered. On checking – as I suspected – 75 concerts, and 90+ events listed in total.
Why does the Royal Albert Hall think that fewer than 5% of the Proms being ‘for all the family’ is a positive headline?
And, only one of those concerts actually listed as a relaxed event. The article says that this event will be ‘suitable for children and adults with autism, sensory and communication impairments and learning disabilities, as well as individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and partially sighted. There is a relaxed attitude to movement and noise in the auditorium, plus ‘chill-out’ spaces outside the auditorium – you can move about, dance, sing or just listen. The Relaxed Prom also features audio description and British Sign Language interpretation.’
Sounds absolutely wonderful. But why only one concert like this?
Is it so hard for the organisers of the Proms to believe that their audiences would like to hear more of their world-class performances in such circumstances?
As a mother of a toddler, and an advocate of inclusive performance, I certainly would.
I don’t mean to be critical of the Proms – as I said, I am a huge fan – but as I scan their list of events, my personal circumstances significantly limit the number I can go to. I’m sure if I looked at a list of classical concerts going on across the country, the percentage that would welcome my son, or other individuals mentioned above, would be even lower than 5%.
I am sure that the fact that the Proms can see six family-friendly concerts, only one of which is listed as fully inclusive, as a topic for a proud headline, is indicative of the mindset of… who? Classical music programmers and promoters? Audiences? Artists?
What do you think? What would make or break you going to a concert?