Audio guide makes Art Gallery of South Australia more accessible during lockdown – National Indigenous Times

Creating opportunities of experience for all, the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) is leading the way by creating an Accessible Audio Guide for deaf, hard of hearing, blind and vision-impaired audiences.

The Accessible Audio Guide is an extension of the gallery’s Access Programs which are dedicated to enabling access to a range of experiences. The programs include Auslan-interpreted lunchtime talks, tours and openings, as well as interactive sessions for students from the South Australian School for the Vision Impaired.

The Accessible Audio Guide enables audiences to view Auslan videos, read transcripts and listen to audio-descriptions of AGSA’s collections. They are available for in-house use and to access from home.

“We were keen to ensure that the artistic and historical cultural experiences that are available at the gallery are available for all of our visitors,” said Education Support Officer and Auslan interpreter at AGSA, Karina Morgan.

“I am an accredited Auslan interpreter and I am a ‘coda’ which means that I am a child of deaf adults, so Auslan is my first language.

“It is the language I grew up with … That gave me all these links to community here in South Australia, so I used those links to start developing programs with the audiences to see what they were wanting to see and hear here at the gallery.”

Morgan’s colleague, Ryan Simms, developed an interest in supporting the vision-impaired whilst working at the South Australian School for the Vision Impaired.

“[He] started learning to do audio descriptions so that he could provide better tours for the school,” Morgan said.

“Between the two of us we started to, with the support of the gallery, develop programs. Out of that process we realised that a lot of the time, like a lot of people who live with disability, when they want to come to the gallery, they really need to tailor their experiences around what our programs are offering at that time.”

The guide was established from various community consultations, ensuring that the diverse needs of community were met.

First Nations voices were present during these conversations, two of which are featured in the Auslan videos.

Aboriginal women Samantha Clarke and Johanna Ages assisted in the creation and presentation of the videos. Both women have a strong history of involvement with the gallery, including leading tours during Tarnanthi last year.

“Seeing what they are looking for, what is the most comfortable use of format in terms of usability, functionality and all that sort of stuff. We have ended up going down the route of not having an audio guide that people can come and hire, [but having] a guide that is available for everyone anywhere,” Morgan said.

“In light of the pandemic … anybody can access the guide, so if you are a remote lover of art and you want to access and engage with the gallery’s collections, you can do so.”

For members of remote Indigenous communities, where lockdowns have been in place across the state for several weeks, this is good news.

Currently, the guide has commentaries on 13 artworks which are displayed in the Elder Wing of Australian Art at AGSA.

The exhibition of Australian art in the Elder Wing “explores the flexibility of identity and the fluidity of belonging” and shows Aboriginal art, colonial art, Australian Impressionism and Modernism, all with local, regional and national nuances.

Moving forward and set to reopen on June 8, AGSA is dedicated to continuing accessibility to all people.

“We are hoping to extend it to an easy read, easy listen option for people whose first language might not be English, and also for those who may have an intellectual disability or may be neuro-diverse and require a little bit more information in explaining,” Morgan said.

“We are hoping to add that element to make things more accessible for everyone.”

By Rachael Knowles

Why art museums will open before performing arts venues – ArtsHub

Cultural strategy expert Andras Szanto recalls: ‘September 11, 2001, was a Tuesday. By that weekend, many of New York City’s museums had reopened, free to the public. I remember seeing the faces of the visitors and how communing inside the museum gave them a sense of comfort and security, of life eventually recapturing its familiar rhythm.’


Arts and culture have proven to help people’s wellbeing in times of crisis, and this has been further evidenced during the current COVID-19 lockdown, with so many Australians turning to crafts, art making and streamed arts programming while stuck at home.

However, the comment common across the sector is that it is ‘just not the same’, whether taking a virtual tour of an exhibition or streaming a concert online. The sensory immediacy of physical proximity offered by the arts is palpable, and absent in the virtual setting.  

The consensus is that getting the doors open as soon as possible (while also maintaining health measures) is vital to the livelihood of the arts sector and the wellbeing of many.

But the arts are a diverse sector. Museums and art galleries are better placed to manage social distancing compared to theatres, given that audiences are fluid in the space; as larger venues they can spread audiences out more effectively.

Then there are touch-based museums – how will they adapt during eased re-openings?


Leading data analyst, Colleen Dilenschneider, says: ‘Performance-based cultural entities may face different (and steeper) challenges compared to exhibit-based cultural entities in an immediate post-coronavirus world.’ That is because some entities are perceived to pose a greater risk of virus spread, she added.

Dilenschneider is the Chief Market Engagement Officer for IMPACTS, a global leader in predictive market intelligence and related technologies. Her US study of over 6,000 arts industry respondents found that ‘While 25.3% of people would feel comfortable visiting an exhibit-based organization without any changes, only 14.7% of the respondents feel comfortable visiting a performing arts entity without significant changes in response to the coronavirus.

‘Even knowing facility cleaning procedures – which would improve perceived comfort levels for roughly 5% of visitors to exhibit-based organizations – matters more for visiting performance-based organizations (for whom nearly 17% cite knowledge of cleaning procedures as important to their perceived comfort and safety),’ Dilenschneider reported.

Her research also shows that arts venues with outdoor spaces are the most likely venues to be patronised first, as people will feel safe.


As we are entering the next stage of conversations – from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Safe’ – there is a lot of industry chatter about how new behaviours will impact arts organisations.

Our recent ArtsHub poll suggests that people remain cautious of a second wave of infections.

‘Out of 635 people polled, 45.2% said they would wait a month from the time restrictions are lifted before attending a live event with 13.1% of readers stating they would only wait one week. However, 26.9% of readers are willing to attend live events from day one of restrictions being lifted, with other respondents stating that they would wait at least two months or longer (13.1%).’

READ: When will you return to the arts after COVID-19?

With today (18 May) being International Museums Day, the first museums are starting to re-open: the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in Darwin opens its doors today along with Lyons Cottage, the Museum of Central Australia and Megafauna Central.

However, Discovery Centres in Darwin and Alice Springs will remain closed to adhere to physical distancing and hygiene measures.

It is in keeping with Dilenschneider’s findings which show that entities perceived to offer tactile experiences – such as science centers and childrens learning museums – will be among the slowest to open, with the risk through contact greatest. It is believed that they will feel the impact more significantly and longer than theatres.

Self-navigated gallery and museum experiences are perceived as the safest to visit. A good example is, the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), which announced last week it will reopen its doors on Monday, 8 June.

MAGNT and AGSA are the only two state venues to set a clear date for re-opening at the time of writing.


Information is key at this juncture. And there is still plenty of time to devise a strategy to help your organisation mitigate concerns upon reopening, but you need to start planning that strategy now.

The first question to address is: what can we learn from those perceptual barriers to entry, and how can arts organisations overcome a kind of “forever” condition of altered audience engagement, where behaviours have pushed beyond a pull-back point?

READ: Conquering fear in your reopening strategy

This is what you need to do:

  • Make it known how your organisation is managing lines and crowds, making hand sanitiser available, and providing engaging outdoor programming, among other examples of safer activities.
  • Potentially lower the capacity of your theatre for a while, seating people in every other chair. Maybe move performances outside.
  • Maybe it’s integrating a virtual concert subscription into an ongoing business plan.
  • Stopping audio tours for a while.
  • Restrict the number of visitors at the entrance of each room within a museum.

Looking abroad for guidance, officials at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels have issued strict safety measures that visitors must follow when the Old Masters Museum, part of the Royal Museums group, opens this week (19 May).

Safety measures include following a one-way circuit. A quota of admissions per hour will spread the number of visitors throughout the day and audio guides will not be offered ‘in order to reduce the risk of contamination’.

Meanwhile, the international museum ethics body Cimam (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art) has issued a set of Precautions for Museums during Covid-19 Pandemic, encompassing safety measures for re-opening and resuming activity at museums.

The recommendations were prepared by three Cimam board members: Eugene Tan, the director of National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum; Suhanya Raffel, the director of M+ Hong Kong; and Mami Kataoka, the president of Cimam and director of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.

The document comprises 20 points under headings such as ‘visitor safety’ and ‘public communication’.

Currently, we are not seeing the same pattern of recommendations for reopening rolling out from the performing arts and live music sector. Perhaps it is time?

Just as museums are broad in context – from small volunteer-run community museums, to learning and science museums, and large state art galleries – the conditions and audiences in the performing arts vary.

Symphonies for example, tend to attract a more senior crowd. How will that impact their reopening strategy?

Dilenschneider’s data show that the average age of 61 for orchestra and symphony-goers in the US (compared to average ages of 37 for museum attendees), may mean both perceptually and medically they are among the most susceptible arts organisations in terms of the effects of COVID-19 and a distant reopening timeline.

Data has always been championed at a tool necessary for savvy arts management today. Even more so, data will help this sector reopen – and survive – while adapting to the known, rather than the unknown.

Paul’s political picture places top of Solar Art Prize pack – Victor Harbor Times

Port Elliot artist Paul Whitehead is one of four section winners of the 2020 Solar Art Prize.

Mr Whitehead entered two artworks – ‘Back in the Black’ and ‘Fiji Holiday’ – in this year’s prize, which was environmentally-themed.

‘Back in the Black’ depicts Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying “We’re Back in the Black” while holding a piece of the large pile of coal he is standing in, and in the background there is mining machinery, a ‘surplus coal mine’ sign, and a wagon with ‘political donations’ on the side and a large bag of money sitting inside.

This piece was the winner of the caricature (political satire) category.

The Solar Art Prize

Mr Whitehead opened Gallery 45 in Port Elliot, which houses not only his and other South Australian artists’ works, but it is where his working studio is set up as well.

He enjoys creating both in his studio and outdoors.

While he creates art with various mediums including oil, gouache, watercolour, and charcoal, he is also a photographer.

Very pleased to have taken out the Caricature (Political satire) prize in this years environmentally themed Solar Art Prize. I entered 2 pieces ‘Back in the Black’ and ‘Fiji Holiday’ the former won the prize 🙂 A special thanks to Pip and the organisers for proceeding with the show in these uncertain times.