Symbol of relaxed sessions

Relaxed sessions (in portuguese “sessões descontraídas”) are sessions of theater, dance, cinema or other cultural events that take place in a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere,  where rules regarding movement and noise in the room are more relaxed. They can also involve small adjustments to the performance (lighting, sound, etc.) and in welcoming the members, to better suit their needs.

They are addressed to all individuals and families who prefer or enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere in a cultural venue, reducing anxiety levels and making the experience more enjoyable (eg, parents with small children, people with attention deficit, people with intellectual disabilities, people with autism, people with sensory, social or communication disabilities).

Read more: Ten point best practice model for Relaxed Theatre performances

The first relaxed session in Portugal took place at São Luiz Municipal Theatre in Lisbon on April 17, 2016: “Paper Wings”, by and with Ainhoa Vidal. Here’s the play’s visual story (in portuguese).

Since 2021, Acesso Cultura is part of the International Relaxed Performance Network.

Comments received regarding the relaxed sessions in Portugal

“One thing I missed when I had little kids was attending music concerts and feeling relaxed … Of course there are concerts for children, but they are usually a bit childish. And a classical music concert … and why not attend a good concert with a small child? With small children, parents themselves find their mobility to be reduced.”

“I’ve been through difficult situations and know what it is for a mother who has an unpredictable child in terms of behavior to dare going out with him/her. Knowing that one is welcome and that the unexpected manifestations of our children do not cause a problem is an important help to bring them out to the street and to socialize with others. There are many people, too many people, confined at home because they are different.”

“Families feel very much the need for such initiatives. There is nothing. All doors are closed. How do they want these children to do theater if they have never been to the theater? It is very difficult to have access to culture and leisure. What is done, is done for the standard. João never went to the theater. The only place where I can take him is the surf. ”

“I have no desire to change the way my son sees the world, but I´ll do everything to change the way the world sees my son.”

“With Quico I can only go to the cinema and the circus. In cinemas, the dark is a big problem. The circus is great because he can make noise at will. Nobody cares when he misbehaves. Quico loves hippotherapy and drum lessons.”

Access Culture received a grant from the Foundation Millennium BCP in order to start the implementation of this project in Portugal.