The Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre would provide a wealth of crucial research opportunities around autism and the arts. Combined with the comprehensive data collection that the Prior Insight system provides, the centre has the potential to drive life-altering research around people with autism engaging with the arts, with young people at Prior’s Court playing an active role
Dr Laura Crane - Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), University College London Institute of Education

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Features of the new performance space

  • A large spacious area for drama and theatre work with robust seating that can easily be folded away. These improved facilities with allow us to host a greater number of touring theatre companies and performance groups.
  • Specialised acoustics and darkened rooms with separate controls to provide appropriate lighting to support better inclusion. The ability to physically change the environment will enable us to manage different levels of tolerance and proactively respond to any individual sensory needs and preferences. 
  • Improved facilities to host a greater number of touring theatre companies and performance groups. 
  • Viewing facilities to allow families to share in our young people’s experience, enabling them to watch performances virtually or in-person from a separate space. Most of our young people live at Prior’s Court full-time, so it is important that their families are able to be part of their creative journey. 


Music therapy can help young people with complex autism improve motor, cognitive and social skills.

Music has helped our son in moments of distress - he is able to focus on a piece of music and keep engaged in a way that we would never have believed could be possible.” Parents of a young person at Prior’s Court.
Parents of a young person at Prior's Court

Features of new music rooms

Two new dedicated music rooms with different purposes: 

  • One room will be set up for large instrument work, complete with a drumming kit and piano.  This space will be used specifically for music practice, allowing instruments to be left assembled to save staff time setting up and dismantling after each session. 
  • A second room will be used for therapy work and less formal music lessons with percussion instruments. 

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Dance and Movement

Young people with complex autism can have limitations on their movement and agility. Dance therapy not only offers opportunities to develop body awareness and promote general wellbeing, but active performing arts projects can help with improved attention, concentration and emotional expression. 

Therapists can use choreographed sequences and repetitive movement to help enhance memory and stimulate verbal communication skills. ‘Intensive interaction’, which mirrors a young person’s movement and sounds, can help with engagement and being able to better relate to others.  

Features of the new dance facility

  • A dedicated studio for dance and movement sessions 
  • Retracting hidden mirrors to suit the individual needs of the young people 
  • Sprung floor 

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Foyer and Outside Space

Access to outdoor spaces is an important component for people with autism.

We recognise the importance of the area surrounding the new facility, and we want to ensure that it is an extension of the centre by playing an integral part in the success of our inclusive performing arts programme.

Features of these spaces: 

  • A designated area that can be used as a ‘breakout’ room for young people not able or ready to join the larger group. There are currently no safe breakout areas where a young person can take time out to calm before re-joining an activity.
  • A foyer welcoming area with toilet facilities. 
  • An outdoor learning area with a canopy and appropriate. flooring that incorporates the same learning from inside the building through sound and visuals. 
  • A reception area to provide vocational or work experience opportunities for young people.