Beneficiary of Hijinx theatre with a twirling baton

Hijinx is a professional theatre company working to pioneer, produce and promote opportunities for actors with learning disabilities and/or autism to create outstanding productions. It offers professional performance training to around 70 actors, at its five Academies, based across Wales.

In addition to performance training, the charity produces outstanding theatrical productions that showcase the talents of its actors, providing them with valuable professional development opportunities. Furthermore, its award-winning communication skills training programmes offer corporate and public sector staff specialised guidance on how to communicate effectively with people with learning disabilities and / or autism.

These sessions are unique in that they are led by learning disabled actors under the guidance of a Hijinx facilitator, and are always highly interactive, energetic and creative.

This training strand serves as a vital component of the charity, enabling it to create paid employment opportunities for its actors while raising awareness of learning disability inclusion. Moreover, the revenue generated from these initiatives supports its broader artistic and charitable objectives, ensuring the sustainability and impact of Hijinx’s work.

Why Pilotlight Direction?

The decision to participate in Pilotlight Direction stemmed from a strategic need to refine and broaden Hijinx’s business training initiatives. Previously, it had encountered challenges in delivering bespoke training offers tailored to individual organisational requests. While these experiences had great value to the charity and its clients, they often involve extensive development time and costs. Both of which can be a barrier in terms of broadening Hijinx’s reach.

Recognising the potential of Pilotlight Direction to provide focused guidance on organisational development, Susan Kingman, Head of Business Development: Training, at Hijinx, saw an opportunity to address these challenges and enhance the sustainability of the charity’s activities.

Specifically, Susan’s motivation for joining the programme was twofold:

  • Refinement of training initiatives: She sought to enhance Hijinx’s training offerings by exploring the feasibility of introducing more general, introductory sessions. By introducing these more standardised sessions, she aimed to optimise resources and reduce development time and costs.
  • Broadening reach and sustainability: Hijinx’s overarching goal was to extend the reach of its charitable activities by making training sessions accessible to individuals, rather than exclusively catering to organisational bookings (although it would continue to respond to organisational requests also). This strategic shift would not only broaden the charity’s impact but also ensure the long-term sustainability of its initiatives.

How did the programme go?

Engaging with Pilotlighters proved to be both thought-provoking and somewhat nerve-wracking for the Hijinx Team. The Pilotlighter team’s insightful enquiries highlighted the critical importance of robust data reporting, prompting her to prioritise this aspect within the charity’s operations. They found immense value in the diverse expertise brought forth by each Pilotlighter, which provided them with invaluable insights into its business training practices.

The process encouraged Hijinx to broaden its perspective beyond its initial scope, leading to a thorough and comprehensive review of the charity’s training portfolio, processes, and the intrinsic value of its work. The recommendations provided by the Pilotlighters served as a comprehensive roadmap for refining its client pitches and elevating the quality of its services. Susan reflected:

One of the key learnings from the project was the importance of embracing a holistic approach to the brief we set the Pilotlighters. While we initially entered the programme with a narrow focus, the collaborative exchange with the Pilotlighters encouraged us to adopt a more expansive and holistic view of our departmental goals and strategies.

Overall, the programme provided us with a transformative experience, leaving us with a deeper understanding of our strengths, challenges and areas for improvement. The guidance and insights provided by the Pilotlighters have significantly contributed to our ongoing efforts to enhance the impact and effectiveness of our business training initiatives.

Results from the programme

Implementing the Pilotlighters' recommendations has yielded tangible results for Hijinx. It has successfully launched online introductory workshops, confidently structured and costed based on Pilotlighter feedback. Additionally, the charity is collaborating with its new Marketing Manager to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote its training services effectively. These initiatives mark significant steps forward in its mission to empower actors with learning disabilities and autism while expanding its reach and impact.

Hijinx has also participated in our Pilotlight 360 programme via the Weston Charity AwardsLearn more about their experience of Pilotlight 360.