Rap star, Missy Elliot once said “music should be your escape”. For some, music is their escape. Especially live music. We go to live music events to create memories, to escape from the world around us, to see our idols perform and sing our hearts out (even if it is a little pitchy). But why is that opportunity still not available equally and to all? Throughout this blog, we’re going to explore what accessibility looks and feels like in a live music setting.
My name is Dina and I am the founder of Tibi Access. Seven years ago, I finished a bachelor’s degree in Entertainment Business Management and was lost as to what to do. In a conversation with a lecturer, she told me to find my niche, to find a gap in the industry and fill it. It was a light-bulb moment for me.
I am a person with a disability who has grown up around live music and experienced first-hand the lack of accessibility and inclusion. As well as founding Tibi Access, I have been fortunate enough to work with Get Skilled Access and alongside the team for the iconic Ability Fest. Ability Fest is a music festival which incorporates a number of accessibility features, so that everyone can enjoy the universal love of live music.
What exactly does Ability Fest provide to make their festival more accessible for people with disability, you might ask? Let’s take a look at three of our favourite features:
Universally designed viewing platforms
Typically, when you think of a viewing platform, you might think of a small, elevated stand all the way at the back of a venue or festival. Well that is certainly not the case at Ability Fest! There are not one, but two platforms available. These platforms are two stories. Yes, you read that right, two stories! Large enough to fit all of your friends and family, allowing you to enjoy live music with everyone else, not set apart from the crowd.
BindiMaps is a mobile app that is completely accessible, allowing for independent navigation and wayfinding. It uses an audio feature that can describe where a person is, and what is around them. It will also give the user verbal descriptions to assist them to get to their chosen destination.
Changing places facilities
Often, accessible port-a-loos are too small to fit a wheelchair and support worker. Changing Places facilities not only allow for additional space but have a changing table and hoist available for safe transfers.
As an event, artist or even venue manager, you might be wondering, what can I do to create an inclusive environment? You might be surprised to learn there are many quick and easy wins that won’t break the bank to achieve better accessibility. Here are our top tips!
Knowledge is power!
Upskill yourself and your team to confidently support people with disability. The more you learn, the more confidence you’ll have to understand and support our community, and what gaps need to be filled within your business to allow for new fans.
How can I upskill?
There are a heap of options out there for you. Some include:
- Autism awareness training – AMAZE
- Disability awareness training – Tibi Access
- Tailored training videos – Get Skilled Access.
Regardless of whether you live with a disability or not, these days, every customer journey starts online. For a person with disability, there is an additional element of research that happens to ensure we have the right supports to access your show. Providing the following information can make a world of difference to your fans:
- Information about bathrooms
- Venue accessibility – are there stairs, a ramp or lift access?
- Do you have quiet spaces for people who experience sensory overload?
- Nearest parking/public transport
- Do your shows have an Auslan interpreter onsite?
- Do you accept companion cards?
Signs of inclusion
Marketing and media continue to improve in their representation of culture, race and gender. Include people with disability within your marketing, promotions, and most importantly, in your workforce.
As we grow as a society and educate ourselves on accessibility and inclusivity, we see more festivals and venues growing to become more inclusive. We want to celebrate these events and businesses, and share some of them with you:
St Kilda Fest
St Kilda Fest introduced Auslan interpreters and a sensory space for the first time to their event this year!
Australian Grand Prix Corporation
This great organisation are diversifying their team, have great accessible viewing platforms, quiet spaces and are hiring staff through the Field.
Move With Us
This is a wonderful event that promotes inclusion and raises funds for the spinal cord injury community.
Still want to see more of what accessibility in the events and music industry can look like? Then head over to Groove Tunes! Groove Tunes is an inclusive night of live music for everyone to enjoy, held at the renowned Corner Hotel. This event not only incorporates accessibility features like Auslan interpreters, SUBPAC vests and a lowered bar, but also has features that encourage DIY accessibility like sensory packs and lyric videos. This event is used as a teaching platform to industry professionals to showcase what access can look like in a mainstream venue.
Accessibility can be many things – it can be renovating an accessible bathroom in a venue, it can be captions in a video, it can even be having fidget spinners available for your audience as a sensory item! It is time to upskill and learn about what we can do to open doors to a wider audience. To learn more about accessibility in the music and arts industry, visit Tibi Access, and head to Ability Fest and Groove Tunes in 2023 and 2024! We can’t wait to see you on the dance floor!
In early 2018, I introduced Tibi Access to Australia. Tibi has been created to change the landscape of live music, events and venues. At the core of Tibi is a spirit of inclusivity and a want to open up gigs and events of all sizes to everyone. Since 2018, Tibi has worked as an access consultant for festivals and venues such as; BIGSOUND, The Corner Hotel and Midsumma, just to name a few.
Log into the Field now to post or apply for jobs. In our May Spotlight Series, we talk with JAM the Label about the process behind creating inclusive fashion. You can find that interview here and our other great blogs here.