A Prior’s Court young person has enjoyed his first-ever concert, seeing Olly Murs live alongside his family, showing the transformational power of the performing arts.

Ethan, 14, went to his first-ever concert on Saturday, 19 August, seeing Olly Murs perform at Newbury Racecourse with his family.

Music has always been a huge motivator for Ethan, who has complex autism, but he has never been able to go to a concert due to worries about how he would manage with the noise and crowds.

However, his family felt secure enough to take him to the concert thanks to the efforts of Prior’s Court staff with Ethan since he joined us nearly three years ago. And as you can see from the videos below, his family's faith in him being able to cope really paid off as he had a wonderful time.

Ethan's mum Becky said:

Seeing him so happy and coping with the noisy and crowded environment was just amazing. We did have an accessible ticket for him but he actually coped in the family zone which meant that all four of us could be together which was also really special. We can't thank everyone at Prior's Court enough to enable us to have had this experience as a family.

Since Ethan joined us in 2020, the team in his residential home have ensured consistency in his everyday life. This coupled with going on longer trips out in the community with his peers and shopping trips, has built Ethan’s confidence in busier environments leading to amazing achievements such as going to his first-ever concert.

Prior’s Court is currently fundraising for a new Performing Arts Centre, which will feature adapted facilities to support young people with complex autism to access opportunities in music, dance and drama and the life-enriching benefits this provides.

Individuals with autism face many barriers to accessing the arts – from light and noise sensitivities to understanding of social rules – and one aim of the centre is to mimic theatre environments to prepare young people to access arts venues in the community successfully. This is in addition to having the opportunity day-to-day to express themselves creatively in a dedicated, bespoke space.

Natalie Norris, Prior’s Court Fundraising Manager, said:

It is great to see Ethan be able to go to a gig with his family. However, we want all young at Prior's Court and their families to have experiences like this and we can only make this happen with a bespoke Performing Arts Centre. The centre will allow us to offer more music and theatre performances on our site which will in turn help attune our young people to the sensory experiences this provokes to be able to better manage at events in the community.

Find out more about the Performing Arts Centre appeal

prospective performing arts centre exterior