HFTco welcomes you as you are.

HFTco is striving to centre accessibility for artists and audiences in all of our programming and policies. Our Value Statements include:

  • Listen to and learn from community stakeholders reflecting a diversity of ages, abilities, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and members of racialized groups.
  • Act as a community leader to encourage new collaborations and partnerships and help to redefine a more inclusive, equitable, just, and accessible culture of theatre in Hamilton.
  • Provide accessible programming in form and price, for artists and audiences, to help ‘level the playing field’ and promote diverse artistic creation.

HFTco broadens our accessibility actions and initiatives every year, and we continue to develop, refine, and reframe our programs, practices, and policies. All staff, volunteers, and board members are AODA trained. We welcome artists, audiences, staff, and volunteers of all abilities and lived experience.

We recognize that we may not currently offer what you need to fully access HFTco events or programs. If you would like more information or to share feedback, please email us or call us at 289-698-2234.

Access Programs for Artists


Disability Justice Artist
This lottery category in the Hamilton Fringe Festival is designed to serve an artist who identifies as Deaf, hard of hearing, sick, living with a mental illness/mental disorder/mad, and/or living with a disability.
Read More (Coming Soon)

Fringe All-Access

This presentation series in the Hamilton Fringe Festival is curated by the Community Curators Circle, pays all companies a flat fee, and encompanses free public performances at the outdoor Fringe Club stage. This program aims to welcome underrepresented communities both in the audience and on stage.
Read More (Coming Soon)

Community Curators Circle (CCC)

The CCC is composed of local artists and arts enthusiasts with varying artistic disciplines and lived experiences. The CCC will choose a series of performing arts companies/artists from Hamilton and surrounding areas to be included in the Fringe All-Access series.
Read More (Coming Soon)

FROST BITES: Community Embedding

The Frost Bites community-based residency invites local activists and advocates working in social justice, to participate alongside local artists as the subjects of interviews and as creative storytellers.
Read More (Coming Soon)

Access Programs for Patrons, Volunteers & Workers

A practice first introduced to HFTco staff by members of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO), the ‘Ways to Succeed’ model is used with all HFTco staff members, ALERT participants [link to ALERT page], Spark participants [link to Spark page], the Community Curators Circle [link to CCC page], and other program participants.

The first step of this model is to collect each team member’s individual preferences and abilities in terms of communication methods, schedule and availability, ways of processing and interpreting information, individual accessibility requests, privacy/confidentiality comfort levels, among other data. That information is then shared with the project coordinator and/or other team members. Throughout the project planning, development, execution, and conclusion, the team members actively engage with respecting each individual’s boundaries/needs/requests, while maintaining the project’s integrity by meeting deadlines, milestones, and vision.

HFTco was founded on the Canadian Association of Fringe Festival’s model of accessibility and openness, which include the following guiding principles:

  • Artists will receive 100% of the tickets and pass price, as agreed upon between the artists and festivals (less any applicable government taxes).
  • Festivals may add a surcharge to tickets and passes.
  • Festivals must provide an easily accessible opportunity for all audiences and all artists to participate in Fringe Festivals.
  • Festivals will promote and model inclusivity, diversity and multiculturalism, and will endeavour to incorporate them into all aspects of our organizations including our boards, staff, and volunteers.


As HFTco has expanded its programming beyond the annual Hamilton Fringe Festival, we continue to apply these ideals by:

  • Offering generally accessible ticket prices to the public for ALL events, including Pay-What-You-Can-Afford tiered pricing and a lowest-tiered price that waives all fees
  • Keeping application fees to artistic programs low cost
    Ensuring public workshops have accessible Pay-What-You-Can-Afford tiered pricing or are free
  • Subsidizing 10% of Kids Club Camp [link to KCC page] spots for campers in financial need
  • Keeping the application and participation in ALERT [link to ALERT page] and Spark [link to SPARK page] artist development programs free and offering participant honouraria upon completion of the programs
  • FringeXChange [link to Apply to the Fringe page] companies receive a $1000 cash bursary, a FREE 60-minute performance slot at the 2022 Hamilton Fringe Festival ($25 Application Fee and $650 Participation Fee waived), and mentorship/staff support at no cost
  • Offering cash prizes for programs including The Gilded Hammer Awards [link to HAMMERS page], the New Play Contest [link to NPC page], Best of Fringe [link to BEST OF FRINGE page], and the Shorts Showcase [link to Shorts Showcase page]

Relaxed performances welcome audience members who may be unable to attend a highly structured performance among audience members who are not judgemental and are also embracing the unique possibilities a relaxed performance can offer. All companies performing in the Hamilton Fringe Festival main venues have the opportunity to offer relaxed performances.

Relaxed performances are unique for each event and each venue. Relaxed performances commonly offer:

  • low lighting in the audience seating areas
    stage lights may not be as bright
  • audio levels may be lowered
  • startling technical elements may be removed or modified (example: loud noises, flashing lights)
  • freedom for audience members to move, stand, exit and re-enter

By choosing to offer Relaxed Performances, performers are adequately prepared for—and joyfully welcome—any of the following experiences with their audience members (this list is not exhaustive):

  • a variety of abilities and access needs, including mobility devices, medical devices, hearing aids, service animals, etc
  • additional requests for wheelchair or other accessible seating
  • audience members may be interacting with Personal Support Workers during the performance
  • audience members may vocalize during the performance (this could be conversational with the performer(s) or sound reactions throughout the performance)
  • audience members may stand, exit, re-enter the theatre, and/or walk around if the venue layout allows
  • young children
  • nursing parents

HFTco is continuing to develop our Audio Described Performances program. In 2020 and 2021, we encouraged artists presenting pre-recorded digital/online content in the Hamilton Fringe Festival to include an Audio Described viewing option. We provided examples of Audio Described tracks to all artists in the festival and staff members were available to review, consult, or seek further resources.

When possible, ASL and/or Deaf interpretation will be available for in-person and online content. Please see our detailed ASL Performances schedule here [link to pre-sorted ASL Performances Event Listings or Online Schedule]. Patrons attending in-person events will be asked to indicate if they require ASL and/or Deaf interpretation at the time of booking, to allow for priority reserved seating. Audiences utilizing ASL and/or Deaf interpretation at in-person events will be given priority seating, to ensure the best sight lines of the interpreter(s).

HFTco will provide free or subsidized translation services in some situations. In 2021, we provided simplified Chinese translation to the winner of the FringeXChange (formerly Equity and Justice Enhanced Support Program) BIPOC Artist lottery spot.

According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, “a support person can be a paid personal support worker (PSW), a volunteer, a family member, or a friend.” We welcome support persons who accompany a person with disabilities, and will grant free admission to performances and events where a support worker is required for a person with disabilities to attend or participate. Support Person tickets must be booked in advance at or by calling 289-698-2234.

Service animals are welcome in all public spaces. If you are attending a live performance with a service animal, please let the Box Office know in advance. According to the Government of Ontario, “an animal is considered a service animal if:

Accessible seating for mobility device users will be made available at every venue, whenever possible. Accessible seating must be booked in advance, and may require the patron and/or Personal Support Worker to meet a staff member or volunteer at an accessible entrance to gain entry to the reserved accessible seating area.

For venue-specific information, please visit Accessing Fringe Venues and Accessing Frost Bites Venues.

We will attempt to make PDF documents, image descriptions, and alternative text elements screen-reader compatible.

Audio pieces may be accompanied by screen-reader friendly PDF transcripts. Scripts may be provided to audience members upon request, pending artist permission and maintaining all intellectual property rights of the creators.

We are committed to providing captions for pre-recorded and livestreamed video content whenever possible.

  • HFTco offers free or subsidized closed captioning services to all artists creating digital content
  • HFTco-created programming presented online, including workshops, panels, and creative content, is closed captioned

Donations Support Access

Our donors are encouraged to direct their contributions towards helping our audiences and artists via ACCESS THE FRINGE for multiple accessibility initiatives, or supporting the new ARTIST ACCESS FUND to further enhance our Artist Development programming.

Artist Access Fund

The new ARTIST ACCESS FUND will help to subsidize access to HFTco programs for local artists in financial need. Artists may request funding for expenses including but not limited to workshop application and participation fees, tickets, or personal expenses tied to participating in HFTco programs (such as public transit, childcare, and more).

Access the Fringe Fund

When donors contribute to the ACCESS THE FRINGE fund, this allows HFTco to contribute financial resources directly to multiple accessibility initiatives including our website redesign, ASL interpretation, FringeXChange: BIPOC Artist and Disability Justice Artist mentorships and bursaries, and more.