Hospital Audiences, Inc. (HAI) provides cultural access to music, dance, theater and the visual arts, reaching out to the frail elderly, mentally and physically disabled, seriously ill children at health and social service facilities and youth in grades K through 12.
The Gallery at HAI inside HAI’s SoHo loft space is open to the public. It is an outgrowth of the Arts Workshops program and the HAI Art Studio—both art-making opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. The work by these participants is featured in six exhibitions each year and available for sale during receptions and regular office hours. To view works from HAI’s archive, which are also for sale, please call to schedule an appointment with curator Quimetta Perle. Visitors who are not interested in buying are encouraged and welcome to visit the gallery.
HAI arranges and produces the Community Performing Arts Series (CPAS) throughout the year. It takes place primarily in the daytime, at wheelchair-accessible venues throughout New York City that can accommodate large audiences. The audiences are drawn from health and mental health facilities and programs for seniors, as well as frail elderly and physically disabled individuals who may rarely have opportunities to experience the thrill of live performance. All events are also open to the general public for $25 or $30. Students and seniors can purchase discounted tickets for $12-$15 each. Tickets can be ordered by calling HAI.
Musicians who have performed in the series have included Marilyn Maye, Tito Puente, Karen Mason, Petula Clark, Ben Vereen, Bette Midler, Leslie Uggams, Karen Akers, Tom Wopat, Ann Hampton Callaway, Bo Diddley and Ronnie Spector. Dance companies include Ailey II, Urban Bush Women, Ballet Hispanico, Taylor 2, JAZZ DANCE by Danny Buraczeski, American Ballroom Theatre, Limon Dance Company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Typical venues for CPAS include Symphony Space in Manhattan, the Skirball Center at NYU, the Center for Arts and Culture at Hostos Community College, Whitman Hall at Brooklyn College, Aaron Davis Hall at City College New York, and the Staten Island Center for the Arts at the College of Staten Island.
HAI's program Describe! provides blind and visually impaired theatergoers with live audio description at Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Among many other shows, HAI has audio described long-running favorites like Mary Poppins, Wicked, The Lion King, and the Radio City Hall Christmas Spectacular.
“Live Audio Description” is the process whereby a specially trained HAI describer transmits description of the physical action on stage during pauses in the dialogue. The describer uses a headset microphone, and program participants listen to the description through a receiver with a single earpiece. The describer is located in the balcony or other area with a view of the stage, and the audience member can sit anywhere in the audience.
HAI provides “Program Notes” prior to the show either live or pre-recorded on DVD. “Program Notes” give blind and visually impaired theatergoers the overall description of the sets, characters and costumes, as well as of the theater itself, which helps create a visual picture in their minds that they can use to achieve a better understanding of the play. Pre-recorded CDs are available for shows that HAI describes on a recurring basis and are mailed to the theatergoers before the performance. Ticket prices vary, but the audio description is free. Call HAI to learn what shows HAI is describing and purchase tickets.