Your friends tell you about a local band playing a gig tonight, and you’re having to Google the venue to see if you can even get into the building! I don’t know if the world knows this yet, but being physically disabled does not mean spending your life living in a hole and only exiting to forage for food.
Even if you can get into the building, imagine being limited to where you can be in the venue? You’re at the back of the crowd and have a perfect view of this guy’s ass. A gig is meant to be a fun experience where you listen to fresh music live from an epic band. For the disabled community, it means feeling disrespected, and like outcasts.
Cameron Walker discussed with me her experiences of going to local venues in her area, Essex.
“I went to a particular venue that only had stairs and no disabled area.”
This is the most common issue, old venues, in particular, don’t want to spend money renovating the building to make it accessible. Apparently, ramps ruin the aesthetic.
Another pointer from Cameron: if the venue has run out of disabled access tickets they can deny you access into the venue, meaning all that effort you made to get to the venue is wasted. Even if you are allowed in, you’re forced to be at the back.
“It doesn’t look like any venues will make themselves more accessible,” she responds, glumly.
It’s 2019 and we all know words like mindfulness, mental health; think we are accepting of alternative lifestyles, choices, and perspectives, but it’s all talk and no action. Venues will sell disabled tickets just to look good. Once inside, disabled audience members endure rude staff members, making music fans feel they’re being a nuisance. When two girls sneaked into the disabled area at a recent gig, blocking the view with their backsides, staff were not amused – with Cameron.
“We asked the staff if they would move them and they just shrugged”.
I think it’s time for venue owners to step up, venues with disability access are incredibly limited. Maybe they’ll have a ramp but will they have an accessible toilet? Is the bar accessible? A reasonable spot to view the band? If there is an upstairs, is there a lift?
It’s not all about being able to get into the venue, but having a fun and easy experience when in the venue. Why should music just be accessible for those who can stand? We all have ears, don’t we?
Like everyone else, music is an escape, and being denied to go see something that means a lot to you is awful. The disabled have all this extra weight on their shoulders to think about when planning an evening out. It would be nice if we all just made it that little easier for them when they make it to the venue.
It’s time for us all to take a stand for those who can’t, no more getting ignored!
Let’s make music accessible to everyone.