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My experience with live music and my disability - A Note From Natalie Pattinson

I’ve been in a wheelchair since 2015 after a stroke. I’m hemiplegic and can walk a very little way but not over rough ground. I’ve had good and bad experiences at music shows - i’ll start with the bad...

I went to Queens of The Stone Age at Hyde Park. There was very little signage to get to disabled parking - had to stop every few minutes to get to area. I kept getting told to go wrong way and no one knew what they were doing. When it was time to leave, my son got split from me but had to

get out the other side as he wasn’t allowed through the disabled separately. I tried to get tickets for a venue in London but there was no disabled access whatsoever, very disappointing. And they were really quite rude when i tried to ask for any sort of assistance. Another venue in London gave me a disabled access seat but it was on floor one and they had no lift which kind of defeated the point. Luckily I can get up and down stairs very slowly if there’s a rail each side and I can pause. But i had to store my wheelchair in the normal cloakroom so at the end of the show, my friend had to queue for ages while I waited outside with no seat. This was because I was sent out a different exit.

When going to the Victorious Festival in Portsmouth, we were sent all manner of ways - and there was a storm at the time. I was absolutely soaked and freezing as was my assistant. The platform was easy to find, but no food nearby at all so my assistant had to trek a long way to get some is was

so far that I couldn’t do it. I also find it frustrating having disabled platforms right at the back as you can’t see anything. Even the big screens are hard to see. I understand able-bodied people need to see, but it would be nice if venues try and find some solution.

Now onto the good experiences. I went to Download Festival a few years. Lots of slopes so it was difficult to navigate, but they did their best. They made many accessible paths as best as they could given the terrain. There were also helpful and easy directions. My friend had some difficulty pushing me up a slope but one of the staff helped her. This time, there was food and bars near the

disabled platform. Guildford G- Live have always been helpful whenever I have been there. The accessible seats are right bear the toilets, and there’s opportunity to transfer to a normal seat if you want or able. Easy access to get into venue - double automatic doors.

I would also like to mention Moles in Bath - they were also really helpful. They let me and my companion in early and carried my wheelchair downstairs while I walked very slowly down them. They didn’t have disabled access but really tried to help a lot. Since, Moles have put their accessibility plan online and it involves using the basement entrance. Once in the room, they put me in an alcove to the side of the stage so I was safe and they also helped me out at the end. Fantastic.

Earth venue in Hackney were also incredible. Again no disabled access but I was loaded onto a trolley and hauled up the stairs by very helpful staff. Though not the most conventional, it enabled me to see a gig so for that, I am grateful. The venue was an auditorium with a little area for standing at the front. Near the front left was a disabled access area where myself and assistant sat. We weren’t in the way of others as they were put on the right or centre, or standing. Plenty of room for all to be able to see because of good planning. It was an amazing experience for myself and assistant.

All in all, there have been some good and bad experiences when it comes to accessing live music. There is still a long way to go but I commend those who are willing to help and make things happen.

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