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News: Sunderland Empire Winner at Autism Professionals Awards

Sunderland Empire Winner at Autism Professionals Awards 2017

We are delighted to announce that the Creative Learning teamat Sunderland Empire were winners at the National Autistic Society's prestigious Autism Professionals Awards last night (Tuesday 7th March) at Harrogate International Centre.

Hollie Coxon (Centre) from the
Sunderland Empire with event
hosts Sarah Hendrickx and Rina Lina
The Creative Learning team won the award for Inspirational Education Provision (Other) and had been shortlisted by an independent panel of 10 autism experts who commended them for going “above and beyond” in their work to provide opportunities to autistic people and their families.

Over the past 4 years, the Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire have strived to deliver unique projects with the autism community, both at Sunderland Empire and through outreach across the Sunderland area. The key remit for these projects is to deliver interesting, leading and exceptional work in autism access and creative learning engagement.

In 2015, the Creative Learning team were successful in achieving Arts Council funding to support ‘Get Curious!’ This ASD Family Learning project was delivered in Partnership with National Theatre and their acclaimed production the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, supported by local cultural organisations from across Sunderland.

Over the past year alone, the team have supported 1,239 in accessing as audiences at Relaxed and Supported experience performances, and 723 instances of people with Autism accessing creative learning.

The astounding outcomes of this very special project based learning have resulted in the identification across the UK of this project as a unique example of best practise. The close working relationships forged continue to grow and the Creative Learning team have developed an Autism-specific youth theatre in collaboration with No Limits Theatre. The project has been instrumental in leading Sunderland towards having a city wide autism friendly family offer, specifically across the Sunderland Family Arts Network.

Hollie Coxon, Creative Learning Manager at Sunderland Empire said: “It was an absolute honour to collect the award last night on behalf of the Creative Learning team, Sunderland Empire and the Ambassador Theatre Group as a whole. The award recognises nationally the ground-breaking and innovative work we deliver in Sunderland. The success of our projects is heavily dependent on strong, local partnership work and we would like to thank all of our participants, parents and key partners in particular No Limits Theatre, all of whom we represented last night to bring home this truly magnificent award.”

Sunderland Empire is managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), the largest owner/operator of theatres in the UK, internationally recognised theatre producer and leader in theatre ticketing services, on behalf of the Sunderland Empire Trust and is supported by Sunderland City Council.

Karen Townsend, Head of Learning and Access at the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) said: “At ATG we believe everyone has the right to experience the joy of live theatre, whether through watching or performing. The Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire have designed a brilliant delivery programme that demonstrates our commitment to this. The whole company is proud of what is being delivered at Sunderland Empire, whose engagement activities for those on the Autistic Spectrum, their families and friends continues to thrive and develop.”

The Autism Professionals Awards have been created to recognise and reward services and professionals who are leading the way in innovative autism practice and making a real difference to the lives of autistic people in the UK. 

The Awards seek to acknowledge the outstanding contributions and achievements of individuals, teams and organisations who have demonstrated excellence, dedication and commitment to improving the lives of autistic people.

Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said:  "It was wonderful to meet so many talented and passionate people and to hear about the difference their work is making for autistic people and their families.

“The Creative Learning Team should be extremely proud to have stood out among so many outstanding finalists, impressing the judges with exceptional work in autism access and creative learning engagement.

“I hope that by sharing team’s and the other winners and finalists’ stories, we can inspire other people and organisations. Caring and innovative professionals and services can transform the lives of autistic people and their families.”

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