Hi dear readers, Samantha here again… This is a follow up post to my difficulties getting suitable accessible tickets to see Coldplay.
Firstly, fantastic news:
At the 11th hour, Coldplay stepped up and rescued the Arsenal tickets situation, restoring my faith in big names in the process.
I was contacted, via Pesky People, the night before the gig, by someone representing Coldplay and offered guestlist tickets in Tier 2, with the band’s guests. They even apologised that they weren’t able to offer me general admission standing tickets, nor tickets in Tier 1, as it was unreserved seating!
Needless to say, I was THRILLED. The seats so kindly provided by the band had a great view of the spectactular light, confetti and firework show, and were close enough to the big screens, without being too far side on, that I could view the action on the screens using my low vision aids. The show was absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed every second (yes, even the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits!). As well as providing seats much more appropriate to my needs, Coldplay had made me feel welcome at their show, as a person with a disability. Which is what this whole battle is about.
So a huge, HUGE public thank you to Coldplay, and to Pesky People, for this outcome.
Although the seats kindly given to me by Coldplay weren’t standing tickets, or in the first set of seating, they were two entire tiers lower down and therefore further forward, than the tickets allocated to me by Arsenal, and at the very front of that tier, so much more appropriate.
Here’s our view from the night, with our original seats highlighted with a red arrow, and the same on the seating plan. I have added a green arrow to show the mirror image of our new seats, for comparason purposes. Note, there was a mini tier of seats between tiers 2 and 3, which isn’t on the seating plan, but is visible on the photo.
I also noted the position of the wheelchair platform on the pitch, which I had been offered seating on, for a different day. This was along the right side of the arena when looking at the stage, so was below my seat and to the left somewhat, so further back. I did note that this platform was full, and they had added a second wheelchair platform, on the same side, but further back. This is presumably what I was offered.
When Pesky People alerted Arsenal’s press department to the original blog, they passed the matter back to their Disability Liaison Officer, who said he would respond in a few days. We’ve yet to hear back from them, but will, of course, share their response. Their website states “Facilities for disabled supporters at the new Emirates Stadium include places for up to 241 wheelchair users on platforms located throughout the ground. There are also a further 98 places available for both visually impaired and ambulant disabled supporters again, situated in a variety of positions around the ground.”.
And specifically for Coldplay:
“Lower Tier Wheelchair users/Ambulant disabled £49.50 plus a free place for an accompanying person.
Pitch Platforms (Wheelchair users) £49.50 plus a free place for an accompanying person.
Upper Tier: Wheelchair users/Ambulant disabled £65.00 plus a free place for an accompanying person.”
So why was I only offered a place in the Upper, least accessible (and most expensive) section?
I am absolutely thrilled at the outcome on this ocassion, but so much hoop jumping and complaining to get decent seats really shouldn’t be necessary!
So I decided to do a little more digging…
Readers of the original blog will note I also looked into the possibility of getting seats for one of Coldplay’s Manchester gigs this weekend, which is something I’m still interested in. You may remember that Manchester City FC said on their website that they sold tickets for wheelchair users and PAs, while Gigsandtours.com sold tickets for Ambulant Disabled. You may also remember that they told me these had sold out.
Pesky People then phoned GigsAndTours to ask them about this, and was able to record them stating that only Wheelchair Users were given a discount (50% off, equivilent to a free PA ticket), Ambulant Disabled customers had to pay full price for themselves and their PA!
Is this equality of access!!
But it seems gigsandtours are not the only ones doing this…
SeeTicket’s page clearly shows that wheelchair users and their PA/Carer are given a 50% discount at the Manchester dates, while Ambulant Disabled and their PA/Carer have to pay full price!
But Ambulant Disabled and Carer still has its own ticket section… So this means, if I want to go to the Manchester date, not only do I have to pay double, by paying full price for my PA’s ticket, but I also have the disadvantage of not having any choice over seating location and this being potentially inappropriate, like at Arsenal!??!! No chance!!
You’ll also note that there are some seated tickets left, even today. but no Ambulant Disabled/Carer tickets. So even though there are seats left, and I need a seat, rather than a wheelchair space, their page indicates that I can’t go!!
Sunderland AFC’s webpage for concerts (not specifically Coldplay) even goes so far as to say “Sunderland AFC in conjunction with the concert promoter advise all people who may require assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation to bring a companion with them, however, this is a personal choice for the individual booking the tickets. A free ticket will be provided for a helper to an individual who is attending in a wheelchair… All other disabled persons e.g. ambulant disabled, blind should purchase general admission tickets…”!
So they acknowledge that I may require assistance in an evacuation, but it’s “personal choice” whether I have access to someone who could provide that assistance?!! Charming!!
While it’s bad enough that it is assumed someone in a wheelchair needs a carer with them, while any other disability does not (at least, not enough to be entitled to a free PA ticket), Aloud.com’s page really does demonstrate the ridiculous and arbitary nature of what is going on. You can see from the screenshots that, like the London dates, Ambulant Disabled people and their PA get a discount at Sunderland, while at Manchester, only wheelchair users get the discount.
Clearly, this must mean that, even when seeing the same band, I am LESS DISABLED IN MANCHESTER!!! And therefore less in need of someone with me to ensure my safety. I really wish someone had told me sooner. I’m now planning that house move…
But, more seriously…. is this equality of access? According to the Equalities Act 2010, companies have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to allow people with disabilities equal access to goods and services, and they have a duty to anticipate what those needs and reasonable adjustments might be.
What we would really like to see is ticket agencies, promoters and venues providing equality of access. This means:
- Having accessible seating arrangements in place before the show goes on sale, not afterwards.
- Having those seats go on sale at the same time as the rest of the tickets
- Accepting that different people have differing needs, and catering for these, by having seats in different areas of the venue, not all lumped together.
- Having flexible and accessible booking arrangements, ideally telephone and online booking, like anyone else. Not send in a form and wait five months!
- Consistency in pricing and PA Tickets, specifically, offering the 2-for-1 scheme promoted by Attitude is Everything, for all people with disabilities who feel they need this, not at just some venues, or for just some disabilities.
- Having all ticket outlets aware of how to access accessible tickets, from before sales open, rather than an I don’t know so I’ll pass the buck arrangement, and preferably, all being able to supply such tickets.
- Having staff who have had disability awareness training.
- Not limiting the number of people with disabilities who can attend an event.
- Meeting the Attitude is Everything Charter for Best Practice standards
- Ability to book accessible, carer and standard tickets on one booking, so people with disabilities aren’t separated from their friends!
Basically, it’s the law. Reasonable adjustments are set out in the Equalities Act 2010, yet companies are failing to adhere to this. But also, disabled people are worth £80 billion a year- do these bands, promoters and venues really want to miss out on that?!?
My final word… THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Coldplay, and to Pesky People for giving me this outlet, for promoting and pushing the issues, and for tons of support. I had an amazing time at the concert, and am hugely grateful.
I hope this isn’t the end of the story. It shouldn’t take this much work to get accessible appropriate seats for a concert. To quote Coldplay, “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard”!