Our promise

We want everyone to be able to access and enjoy live entertainment, drama, music and dance. We are committed to ensuring that everyone’s needs are met in order to enjoy the best possible experience.

Access facilities, services and performances

Access policy
Access List
Physical access to the building
Accessible toilets
Wheelchair users
For D/deaf people or those with hearing impairments
For people with visual impairments
Assistance dogs
Relaxed performances
CFT Buddies
Dementia Friendly theatre
Further Assistance for those with impaired hearing
Your Comments

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Access - Theatre for all

Large Print Brochure

Winter 2019 Logo 792X447.

Large print brochure

Audio brochure

Access Policy

We have created this Access Policy to focus our efforts and help us reach our goals. For these purposes, the term ‘disability’ is used in the broadest sense of the word and covers all disabilities defined in the Equality Act 2010.

Key Aims

The key aims of this Policy are to ensure that:

  • Everyone is able to access and enjoy live entertainment, drama, music and dance
  • Reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the physical features of the Grade II* listed Theatre, and our practices, policies and procedures, are accessible to everyone
  • We make best use of technology to enable and assist disabled patrons using our services
  • Ensure that all patrons are treated equally, feel valued and experience high levels of satisfaction

Access List

In order for us to provide the best possible service when you visit us please join our Access List. Please note, it can take up to two weeks to process and enable Access List Membership applications and renewals.

Please call the Box Office on 01243 781312 or email for further details. If you have any specific disabled access questions or would like to discuss a particular issue, please contact the House Manager on 01243 784437 or email

If you require continual supervision or assistance during your visit you may be eligible for a discounted Essential Companion ticket. The companion must be able to help the disabled person access the theatre and its facilities, remaining with them to ensure their wellbeing and comfort. All tickets are subject to availability at the time of booking.

We will send out informative pre-show emails to our Access List members who have given us permission. If you have any suggestions of additional information to include in these emails, please do let us know at

Complete Access List Membership form


If you wish to receive the disabled concession (a 40% discount for people with disabilities and their companion) please provide us with a photocopy of proof of disability along with the completed Access List form; examples of accepted documentation are listed on the form and we ask that it is dated, where possible, within the last 12 months. This has been introduced following advice from The Chichester Access Group.

Please email the form to along with a scan of your documentation if relevant, or post to Access List, Chichester Festival Theatre, Oaklands Park, PO19 6AP.

If you are not eligible for the discount but have specific requirements please still fill out and return the completed form in order for us to be able to offer you the best possible service according to your needs.

To book tickets with the disabled concession please call the Box Office on 01243 781312.

10% Discount in The Café 

10% discount is available in The Café for holders of the Compass Card and Max Card – schemes for looked after children (LAC) and / or children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).


Chichester District Council’s Northgate Car Park is an 800-space pay and display car park next to the Theatre (free after 8pm). On matinee days, the car park is very busy, so please allow plenty of time.

Blue Badge holders can park anywhere in Northgate Car Park free of charge. There are 9 non-reservable spaces close to the Theatre entrance.

There is a 'drop off' area in front of the Festival Theatre which can be accessed from the Broyle Road entrance. Visit our Getting Here page.

Please note that, due to health and safety reasons, our staff are unable to assist disabled patrons in and out of their transport or mobility equipment.

Physical access to the building

Both Theatres are fully accessible and we offer a range of access performances and services.

Festival Theatre

Opens from 10am – 8pm Monday to Saturday (6pm on non show days). There is a level access from the main entrance. The Box Office has a lowered counter for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.

From the entrance, the Bar and Box Office are directly ahead, The Café is to the right, and the Foyle Terrace is on the left.

Cloakrooms are situated either side of the foyer upon entering the main doors and open around 45minutes before the performance. You can leave coats, umbrellas and large bags with the Front of House staff.

The auditorium is above the foyer area. There are a minimum of 16 steps from the foyer to row A in the auditorium. Most staircases are fitted with handrails including some inside the auditorium. The steps inside the auditorium are small and shallow.

If you require step free access, there are lifts situated by The Café (right of the main entrance), and the Foyle Terrace (left of main entrance), which are manned by Front of House staff from approximately 30 minutes before performances. Certain seats are more easily accessible from the lifts than others.

Box Office and Front of House staff can advise customers of the best route to their seats at the time of booking or when arriving for the performance.

Minerva Theatre

The Minerva Theatre building opens one hour prior to each performance. It is accessible by a dropped kerb. The Box Office is on the ground floor on the left of the staircase; The Brasserie restaurant is on the right and the Minerva Bar and Grill is on the first floor on the right.

The auditorium is on the first floor and has only one entrance. This is accessible by a lift in from the foyer or by ascending 17 steps. The front row is on stage level; access to all other rows involves climbing steeply raked stairs. The seating blocks are flexible, and can move slightly underfoot.

Box Office and Front of House staff can advise customers of the best route to their seats at the time of booking or when arriving for the performance.

There is no specific cloakroom in the Minerva but you can leave coats and umbrellas in the Minerva Bar and Grill and large bags can be left with the Front of House staff at the entrance to the auditorium.

The Steven Pimlott Building

There is level access and facilities include an accessible lift and toilet.

Accessible toilets

Both theatres have accessible toilets. These are located by The Café and Foyle Terrace in the Festival Theatre (there is also an accessible toilet located within the auditorium on the first floor on one side only) and on the ground and first floor of the Minerva Theatre.

There are ambulant cubicles in each of the ladies and gents facilities in both theatres.

Wheelchair users

There are 16 wheelchair spaces in the Festival Theatre over two levels, with accessible lifts either side of the auditorium. Two wheelchair spaces are available in the Minerva Theatre. These seats are bookable by calling or emailing the Box Office; if you are an Access Member of Chichester Festival Theatre they can also be booked online. Additional seating can be provided for a companion.

We regret that, in accordance with the theatre licence, customers may not transfer from a wheelchair to a theatre seat inside the auditorium without the prior consent of the House Manager.

We have wheelchairs available to borrow, subject to availability; please reserve in advance with the Box Office or House Manager.

Our Learning, Education and Participation team provide a number of classes and events young people and adults with disabilities.

Mobility vehicles

We understand that some of our customers have limited mobility and may need some assistance during their visit to the theatre.

Walking sticks, crutches and walking aids can be taken into both theatres but we regret that we cannot permit any equipment that will not fit safely under the seats to remain in the auditorium. An area is provided for the storage of this equipment; we cannot guarantee that staff will be available to retrieve equipment at the end of the performance - please plan accordingly.

Whilst we will always try to assist in any way we can, access is restricted in some areas of our buildings. The Box Office and Front of House staff are trained in accessibility and are on hand to answer any questions.

We waited at the welcoming low level box office for all of about thirty seconds for our tickets, and the front of house chap operating the lift simply could not have been nicer, more helpful or efficient. It was definitely above and beyond the call of duty. We are very grateful indeed for all the support from everybody there.

Michael, Access Member


Chichester Festival Theatre is committed to making sure everyone’s needs are met in order to enjoy the best possible experience. Both Theatres are fully accessible and we offer a range of access performances and services.

At each performance at the Theatre, our trained ushers will be available to assist disabled patrons in accessing our services.

For people with hearing impairments

Free Sennheiser listening units are available for all performances or switch your hearing aid to ‘T’ to use the induction loop in both Theatres and both Box Offices.

Collect the units from the Cloakroom in the Festival Theatre and from Front of House staff outside the Minerva Theatre auditorium. Seat numbers will be required upon collection.

There is a limited number of units, available on a first come first served basis.

Signed performances

Signed performances help D/deaf people enjoy theatre performances. A British Sign Language interpreter stands on or at the side of the stage. They interpret the spoken word and sound effects for audience members who use BSL. Available in the Festival Theatre on selected dates during the year indicated in the season brochure, online access performance page and show web pages.

View signed performances in the Festival Theatre

Stagetext captioned performances

Captioned performances are for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, or for those for whom English is not their first language. Captioning converts words into text that appears on a screen above or to the side of the stage, or on an individual tablet at the same time as they are sung or spoken. For more information see

View captioned performances

Transcribed podcasts and recorded talks

Many of our pre-show talks are recorded and shared on YouTube. These are transcribed by volunteers; subtitles/closed captioning can be selected on each individual video. 

We are in the process of transcribing our Podcast series - see episodes 14 and 16. All future Podcasts will be transcribed and we will then work on the archive. 

For people with visual impairments

Running times and performance information is available on a recorded phone message or via the Box Office. Please call 01243 781312 for more details.

Braille is available on all row ends and numbers on individual seats in the Festival Theatre. Braille and large print cast lists are available for all Festival productions.

We are able to provide seasonal brochures in large print and on audio CD upon request. Audio brochures are also available on our YouTube andSoundcloud channels. Please email for more information.

This venue is committed to access like no other

Tim Calvert, A View on Access on RNIB Connect Radio, August 2019
Audio described performances

These performances make productions more accessible to blind and visually impaired people by explaining what is happening on stage using the gaps in dialogue. Listen to live narration from a friendly voice through headphones often including changes of location, actions, facial expressions and gestures, giving context and setting the scene. The description is fitted between dialogue to avoid interrupting the flow of the production. Using headphones means the performance is unaffected and suitable for all.

View audio described performances

Free headsets are available at the cloakrooms in the Festival Theatre and outside the Minerva Theatre auditorium.

If you are unable to attend on these dates, we may be able to arrange an alternative; please contact the House Manager for more information.

The audio description was so good that it did not make the slightest difference that I could not see a thing that was happening on the stage!

A Midhurst 4Sight Vision Support member, 2018
Touch Tours

Enable customers to explore the set, props and costumes used within specific productions. These take place 90 minutes before a described performance and last approximately 30 minutes. We also offer customers the chance to explore the theatres, although some backstage areas are inaccessible due to the nature of the buildings.

Touch tours can be booked online, subject to availability.

Cft Podcast.

Listen to our Podcast

Assistance dogs

Hearing and guide dogs are welcome in both theatres, but please inform the Box Office when booking as spaces are limited. For customers not wishing to take their dog into the auditorium, theatre staff are available to ensure they are well looked after during the performance.

CFT Buddies

The CFT Buddies scheme supports those who don’t feel able or comfortable attending a performance on their own. It may benefit elderly and socially isolated people, those with learning difficulties or who are on the autism spectrum, and anyone with physical disabilities or eyesight and hearing difficulties.

Buddies offer companionship and access support for theatre-goers and generally make sure they have an enjoyable visit. Please read the Guidelines to the CFT Buddies Scheme.

If you would like to register interest for a CFT Buddy, please complete an application form and email it to

PDF version of CFT Buddies application form

For more information about the scheme, please email or call the Box Office on 01243 781312.

Supported by

My buddy Sue was simply brilliant. She made the whole afternoon an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Thank you all so much for providing this service.

CFT Buddies Scheme participant

Dementia Friendly theatre

All of our Box Office and Front of House staff have received Dementia Friends training; they wear a blue Dementia Friends pin on their uniform.

Led by our Community Partnerships Manager, CFT delivers a programme of Dementia Friendly activities for everyone to enjoy. Events include tea dances, backstage tours and weekly Mind, Body Sing! sessions especially designed for those living with dementia and their carers.

CFT is a member of the Chichester Cultural Learning Partnership, along with Chichester Cathedral, Fishbourne Roman Palace & Gardens, The Novium, The Otter Gallery, Pallant House Gallery and the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum.

View dementia friendly events

Access and Dementia tours

Find out more about our Grade II* listed building and explore at your own pace in these specially provided Theatre Tours. Other dates may be available – please contact the Box Office for details.

Further assistance for those with impaired hearing

We have installed systems to help those with impaired hearing. Both Theatres are equipped with:

  • an Infra-Red audio enhancement system. Both infrared headphone receivers and necklace-style induction loop transceivers (which work in tandem with an existing hearing aid set to “T”) are available and can be collected from the cloakrooms before the performance commences. No fee is charged.
  • an induction loop system for use by those with hearing aids. In order to use the system, a patron should set their hearing aid to the 'T' position once inside the auditorium. The system works best in the centre of the auditorium; if you would like use this service please inform the Box Office at the time of booking.

For concerts or music events these systems may not be suitable. The Box Office can provide more advice.

We regularly check these systems to ensure that they are operating correctly. In the unlikely event that you experience any difficulties please let a member of staff know as soon as possible.

Your comments

We regularly review this policy as well as the facilities we provide to disabled patrons, in order to ensure that all our disabled patrons feel welcome at the Theatre.

We greatly appreciate any suggestions you may have about how we could improve your access to and enjoyment of, the Theatre and its facilities.

Feedback is always welcome – please speak to any member of the Front of House staff or email your comments to

Chichester Festival Theatre aims to welcome everyone to enjoy our venue and productions. If admission contravenes the conditions of our licence and/or poses a higher than acceptable risk to public safety, we reserve the right to refuse admission to any customer.