LIVE ACCESS; WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE?

How easy or should I say difficult is it for to attend a music gig or concert on your own as a visually impaired person.  What are your experiences of trying to book tickets for, attend and navigate around the venue itself.  Howe friendly and helpful have the staff been or on the other side of things, what barriers have been flung in your way to trying to attend that well anticipated show by your favourite artists.

From my own and others experiences, access to venues really does depend on the individual location and also the attitude of those who are working there.  I can site two opposite examples of where the right attitude and awareness can open up attending live events.

Last year, we booked to go and see something at a nearby town hall; run by the local authority.  On booking the tickets, we advised that we were both blind and although mobile, would need guiding to and from our seats.  Assurances were given that this wasn’t a problem and that help would happily be on hand.  However, when we got to the venue itself, we were greeted by a certain amount of frostiness and an abrupt question ‘where’s your carers’.  After some discussion, we were given a hand but the attitude of those stewarding the venue were not good all evening.  In a supposed era of open access and inclusion, this was taking things back several decades to times best forgotten.

The second example involves the first direct arena in Leeds West Yorkshire (May I add that this venue is not in the same authority area as the example given above).  This newly built venue, was opened last year to great acclaim.  From our experience, its customer service has been second to none as access to venue is encouraged.  We’ve booked to go and see several concerts already and have faced no adverse reaction to wanting to go on our own (without mythical carers as well).  The only slight problem we had was trying to find stewards during the performances, but in time, I’m sure that this will improve.

Access to venues, facilities and events is not just a physical thing; in terms of widening doorways, installing lifts and creating space.  Although extremely important, it is crucial that awareness levels, not just at the larger arenas but at the municipal venues, should be enlightened and brought realistically into the 21st century.  Many areas across the country have got it right but many are yet to catch up.  We, like anyone else, should have the right and the ability to attend any live event that we choose to and barriers to doing so should be addressed and taken down to encourage free choice.  After all, is Stevie wonder subjected to the proviso that he can only attend a live venue if he has a carer with him?

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