Sunday 24th September 2017,
Independent Venue Week

Guest Blog – Access All Areas? How Attitude Is Everything are making it easier for disabled gig-goers & venues

IVW January 27, 2017 2017, Partner, Partners Comments Off on Guest Blog – Access All Areas? How Attitude Is Everything are making it easier for disabled gig-goers & venues

Smaller, independent venues are an asset to the music industry and a gift to music fans. There are so many reasons why I enjoy visiting independent venues – the atmosphere, the intimacy and the price are all very appealing. For me though, it’s usually the place to find brand new and upcoming music. Visits to these venues are the very first time I see a soon to be favourite band and the most memorable moments are born.

As a disabled person, I don’t always have the same choice of venue as everyone else. It often means I’m more restricted on where I can attend. Attending a gig at a new venue often involves Sherlock-like strong investigation skills to uncover whether or not I can attend an event. It’s frustrating, because this can be easily avoided if access information was made clear on the website. This is why Attitude is Everything‘s Access Starts Online campaign is so important – providing something as simple and cost-effective as an access information page has massive impact on the experience of disabled audiences.

I have an invisible disability and I feel that my requirements are often overlooked or not even considered. Having honest information on a website would save a great deal of fuss on both parts and I believe it would mean that I could attend more venues. Many small venues struggle to be fully accessible due to their use of older buildings, smaller budgets and having less space. But I do believe that every venue can do something to cater for someone with a disability – invisible or visible.aie-hanna and friend

I’ve found many small venues, which have no access information on a website (or indeed, no website at all) to be very accessible. It makes me sad because I know that they are massively underselling themselves by not advertising their potential for disabled customers on their website.

In this case, I will send an email or make a phone call to find out if my access requirements can be met at a particular venue. I have found smaller venues to be the most creative in catering for my access needs and it’s great to feel like my custom matters as much as everyone else’s. I have a feeding tube which is attached to a pump and a litre of formula in a back pack. I wear this at all times. My disability also means that I struggle to stand for an extended period of time. To attend a venue, I don’t look for ramps or lifts – often the first thing that comes to mind when we hear disability. I just need to know that I can be in a less crowded area of the venue and that there will be somewhere for me to sit. My access requirements are simple and free – most small venues can and will provide it.

Independent venues often have less space which means that my need to avoid crowds can sometimes be more difficult. But in my experience, independent venues have the most creative ways of tackling this, sitting me with my back to a bar or barricading me in with a table.

For Independent Venue Week, I went to check out Dream Wife (pictured) at The Night And Day Café in Manchester. As it’s a venue that I have never been to before, I had to send some emails beforehand to find out if it would be possible to attend. Fortunately, I was assured that they could provide me with a seat a little out the crowd which meant I could start looking forward to my first time catching Dream Wife live!

 


As a disabled person, I don’t always have the same choice of venue as everyone else.

 

We found a table in a corner right next to the sound booth and handy for the bar and it was perfect for me. I went along with friends and we had a brilliant time soaking up some incredible live music. The atmosphere in this colourful little venue was fantastic. There were a few tickets left and it wasn’t overly full but Dream Wife packed a decent sized, lively crowd which always makes for a great live show experience. The intimacy between the crowd and the performers in an independent venue is something that just cannot be recreated in an arena. It’s so important that disabled customers have the same opportunity to enjoy the magic of a smaller live venue and also, get to witness their favourite bands as they burst onto the scene.

I was super impressed with Night and Day Café. The main venue space was all on one floor and it had plenty of tables and chairs. Whilst there was shed-loads of energy within the room, it didn’t get too crowded and it was easy for me to make my way to the toilet and the bar thanks to an ideal layout. There was raised seating at the side which was perfect because it meant that I didn’t have to sacrifice my view of the stage – often the case when you need to be sat down. It also had an accessible toilet on ground level as well as regular toilets down a flight of stairs. It’s in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which is close to Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria train stations and has plenty of car parks with accessible parking close by. It had so many fantastic qualities to offer its disabled audience. My positive experience means that I’m more likely to return because I know that my needs can be met. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future listings at Night and Day and I’m excited to have found another small venue where I can hopefully enjoy plenty more incredible live music experiences.
Hanna McKearnen

For more please visit Attitudeiseverything.org.uk/accessstartsonline.

 

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