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My experience with live music and my disability - A Note From Sarah Green.

I was diagnosed with a chronic condition way back in 2008, up until then my favourite pastime was walking. Especially the hills and mountains of Scotland and the Lake District. So although I had been to a few gigs and a couple of festivals live music didn’t really feature in my life. Although music was always my first love.

But as fate would have it my condition affects my walking and causes terrible pain and stiffness. To top it off my hip decided to break for no good reason in 2013 and this left me housebound and miserable. That’s when I decided that I needed to aim for something, so I decided I wanted to see my new obsession Frank Turner play live and to attend the 2000 Trees festival. So that’s what I worked towards.

I set about trying to find out how, with my poor mobility and debilitating symptoms, I could ever manage it. I spoke to disabled friends and asked around in fan forums. They gave me some good advice but it was a steep learning curve.

Rule one was to contact the venue and buy tickets direct. Find out what they can offer and how they’re set up, look at their website. But it was all still very stressful and hit and miss. It’s not much fun having to tell people about your disabilities. However it eventually ended up making me more confident and able to tell people about my challenges.

My first gig was a disaster. I won’t tell you the venue, but suffice to say they were dreadful. I contacted them to buy my ticket, explained that I was disabled and they assured me that if I rang nearer the time they’d sort me out a safe space. So I tried to ring them repeatedly but got no reply. Finally on the day of the gig I got through to them, only to be told they couldn’t help, there was no way I could have a seat or safe space and that I couldn’t come! I was inconsolable.

As luck would have it I had previously corresponded with the artist and he had told me that he was very supportive of disabled people’s right to accessible gigs. He said that if I ever had an issue please email him and he would try to help. Out of desperation I sent him an email, not ever expecting a reply. Ten minutes later my inbox pinged with a response in which his team and the venue had been asked to resolve my predicament immediately.

That night I was sent to the front of the queue, admitted a few minutes early and escorted up in the lift to the balcony where they had cordoned off a seated area. I was by no means the only disabled person there and to this day I have no idea why I had been told I couldn’t attend. This experience gave me an insight into both good and bad procedures, and despite feeling humiliated to begin with I am glad I persevered and I still feel immense gratitude towards the artist for being as good as their word.

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