25 June 2013 Live Music for All
Like most young people I enjoy listening to music and look forward to getting the chance to see my favourite artists perform live. As a wheelchair user i like to take part in activities where I feel my impairment does not mean I have less fun than others. Going to a concert or festival is something I feel I can take part in on an equal basis with everyone else. Unfortunately there are still certain aspects that are made more difficult, even though there are simple solutions.
Most of my experiences when at a venue for a concert or festival are overwhelmingly positive, however it is the process of booking tickets where the problems are created. In this technological age most people can book tickets for a concert or festival online with the click of a button. It still remains the case though that to book tickets as a wheelchair user you are mostly not able to use this method and instead have to use a premium phone line often only open during working hours. This creates more stress and can often end up costing you a significant amount of money.
The second part of the booking process is the most stressful, that of proving your disability. Quite rightly venues want to ensure that no one is able to cheat the system in order to get a reduced price, but the system by which you do this needs to be improved. Currently in most cases you have to send off a form along side evidence of your disability such as a copy of your disability living allowance (DLA) before you can even guarantee you will get a ticket at the end. Last year I wanted to get tickets to see Coldplay. I woke up early on the day they were released hoping to beat the rush. When I reached someone by phone, they told me that before I could get a wheelchair space they needed proof of my disability. Apparently this could not be done by email and instead I was given the option of posting it or using a fax machine. As it was 2011, I didn’t know anyone with a fax machine! I knew postage could take a while so spent nearly half the day tracking down a fax machine. I then had to nervously wait almost two months until it was confirmed I had tickets. It baffles me as to why even now wheelchair users are forced to use such outdated methods when much faster and more efficient methods are available.
There are better ways of going through this process. My experience of booking tickets this year shows there are ticket companies out there that are improving there provision for wheelchair users. In April I booked to see Mumford and Sons using LiveNation. They allowed me to pay for my tickets and reserve them before I sent off my proof of disability. This meant I was not stressed about whether or not the months delay would mean missing out on tickets. This is very much a step in the right direction. Unfortunately there are lots of negative stories still out there. Today MDC Trailblazers held a meeting on the issue of access to live music as part of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People. The survey carried out by Trailblazers before this meeting came up with some striking statistics. The survey reveals seventy-seven percent of young disabled people believe that booking tickets for a live music event puts them at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled friends and that one in two young disabled people has either missed out on tickets or had a stressful experience booking them.
Whilst of course there are also some issues concerning physical access and seating time and time again the major issue raised when it comes to negative aspects of accessing live music is booking tickets. I feel based on my experiences that this is about right. Until the process of getting tickets is the same for both wheelchair users and everyone else they will continue to be at a disadvantage.