Meet the Nominees: Oily Cart

11/1/2021 10:54:25 AM
Meet the Nominees: Oily Cart
Fantasic For Families

In our Meet the Nominees series, we're featuring guest blogs by five organisations that have been shortlisted for the 2021 Fantastic For Families Awards. Find out why they are fantastic for families, what motivates them and which project they've been nominated for…

We finish our series with Oily Cart. For 40 years, Oily Cart has been creating accessible, sensory theatre for and with disabled and non-disabled children, young people and their families. An Oily Cart show can take place anywhere - bouncing on a trampoline, floating in a hydrotherapy pool, or even flying up in the air! Using touch, sounds, smells, music and movement, our interactive, responsive shows prioritise the enjoyment of children for whom standardised theatre formats create barriers to access. 

The Oily Cart team told us about their nomination, their response to the pandemic and accessible digital offers: “We are thrilled to have been nominated for the Fantastic for Families ‘Audience Impact & Innovation’ Award, for our ‘Uncancellable Programme’. When the pandemic began, we found we weren’t allowed into theatres and schools, or any of the places we normally perform. We couldn’t create close-up, interactive shows that used touch as a central technique, either. Many of our audience were – and still are – shielding, often with increased caring responsibilities as support was withdrawn. Families told us that theatre would need to come to them, that it would need to be flexible around caregiving, and that many digital offers were not accessible for their children. 

The Uncancellable Programme was our response, to ensure we could continue to reach shielding families in a safe and meaningful way. We created work in entirely new formats, taking performances into playgrounds, onto doorsteps, and through Zoom screens. We delivered shows in the post, created online interactive sessions, and premiered our first sensory films. We had some great responses to this new work.”

“A wonderful theatre experience and just what we needed during these difficult COVID times” Audience feedback, Doorstep Jamboree

“Deep, meaningful, powerful and profound experiences which were new to us as a family and were very special.” Audience feedback, Space to Be

What’s next for Oily Cart? “Next year, we’re returning to venues for the first time with our show Sound Symphony, aimed at Autistic young people and their families. This is a tailored show – a highly responsive show tailored to small groups and individuals, again removing the barriers to access that standardised theatre formats or larger audiences create. We also create accessible family shows that provide opportunities for the shared experience of both disabled and non-disabled audiences.” 

The Oily Cart team also shared with us what they learned from their experience of creating new family-friendly offers during the pandemic: “With everything we’ve learnt during the pandemic, we’re now committed to making sure that all future projects offer a ‘blended’ theatre experience. No matter where you are, and whether you’re able to attend in-person events or not, there will be something for you. So, for Sound Symphony, families will be able to book Zoom performances of the show. They will also have access to an interactive website which, building on the themes of the show, celebrates the palette of amazing sounds the world has to offer, giving audiences the opportunity to conduct a symphony of their own.” 

To keep up to date with what Oily Cart are up to and to sign up to their newsletter, head to the Oily Cart website. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and drop them a line at You can find Oily Cart’s online experiences in the At-Home library on our website.

Curious about the other Fantastic for Families Awards 2021 shortlisted organisations? Check out the list, and look out for when we announce the winners on Tuesday 16 November 2021. 🎉 You can also read about Barnsley Museums, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Lakeland Arts and Chichester Festival Theatre.

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