Museum of Austerity

    • Sacha Wares, John Pring
    • United Kingdom
    • 2021
    • 30 min
    • Installation
    • International Premiere
    • DocLab: Liminal Reality, IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction

    Museum of Austerity is a mixed reality exhibition that explores what happens when state safety nets fail. From 2010 – 2020, the British government implemented a series of changes to the UK benefit system as part of their austerity (cost cutting) agenda. In 2016 the UK was investigated by the UN who found that “grave or systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people were taking place in the UK. These violations were closely associated with changes to the benefits system.

    Combining verbal testimony, original music, and volumetric capture, Museum of Austerity documents events from this era, inviting audiences to contemplate close up what happens when the state’s rhetoric and its citizens’ lived reality tell different stories.

    Co-produced by English Touring Theatre, the National Theatre Storytelling Studio and Trial & Error, this powerful installation combines the skills of theatre/XR director Sacha Wares with the in-depth knowledge of John Pring, editor of Disability News Service.

    Museum of Austerity is also presented during the event DocLab Live: Liminal Systems.

    Museum of Austerity in Tolhuistuin is wheelchair accessible and can also be experienced:
    • Walking and standing as a promenade experience including with portablefolding stools
    • Stationary and seated, listening to audio only

    The following options and equipment are also available:

    • In headset captions
    • Dialogue only version (reduced background sound)
    • Silent version
    • Large over-ear headphones which can encompass a behind-ear hearing aid
    • A volume control allowing independent reduction of the volume in the left orright ear
    • A 3.5mm mini-jack socket for hearing aids with direct input cable
    • A personal induction loop for hearing aids with a T-seing
    • Transcript available on request

    • Audio description (introduction and through description)
    • Headphones free audio
    • Stationary, seated, audio only version
    • Paired viewing/listening (available if you come accompanied by a sightedguide*) 
    • The mixed reality headset can be worn over most glasses and contact lenses
    • Headset brightness adjustment
    • Large print version of brochure, signage and audio description transcript available in paper or digital form on request
    • Guide dogs welcome

    • Individual support to choose access options and get headset on 
    • Seating area to rest
    • Small audience numbers
    • You can request a sightedguide by sending an e-mail to:

    Free on site registration at the DocLab Reception in Tolhuistuin. Limited availability.


    • 30 min
    Sacha Wares, John Pring
    National Theatre, Trial and Error Studio, English Touring Theatre, Ollie Lindsey, Robin North, Clarice Hilton
    Key collaborator
    Mo Ahmed, Peter Carre, Imogen Day, Nichole Drury, Jill Gant, Helen Marston Hullah, Dave Smith, Gill Thompson, Alison Turner
    Miriam Buether
    Technical artist
    Prema Mehta, Leon Baugh, Hana Pascal Keegan

    IDFA history

    International Premiere
    DocLab: Liminal Reality
    IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction

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    IDFA history

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