SOLD OUT can be the two most disappointing words in the world when you’re trying to get tickets to a concert or a film.
After you’ve been on hold for 30 minutes or redialled 60 times or waited in line only to find out that when it is finally your turn, you are too late.
Everyone will have experienced this at some point, but people with disabilities experience it more often than most.
Last week I tried to see ‘Wonder Woman’ at Vue cinema in Cambridge which has several screens and is located in a big shopping centre.
When I got to the till I was told that there were no more wheelchair spaces as the only one they had was just sold to another wheelchair user.
Let’s take a moment to review that number – one wheelchair space in a theatre with about 50 other seats, in other words 2% of the audience.
This is outrageously disproportionate and I rang Vue Customer Service to tell them about my experience. I was told that all seats are subject to availability, but they didn’t seem to realise that the availability is extremely different.
If you’re not a wheelchair user and you’re 49th in line you can get in no problem. But if you are a wheelchair user and you are 2nd in line or are two friends in wheelchairs, then you are out of luck.
No one can say that this is fair but so many people say ‘it’s just the way it is’ or (my personal favourite) ‘the structure of the building prevents accessibility/more seats etc.’
If they can make the 2,000-year-old Roman Baths accessible for wheelchair visitors (which I would recommend), I think making a modern cinema with more than 1 wheelchair space should be no problem.
The lack of allocated wheelchair spaces is not just an issue for cinemas. At live music venues, if they have spaces at all, the number of spaces is very limited.
Large venues like The O2, have a good number of wheelchair seats and offer a great view. If you’re as music crazy as I am though, many artists you’ll want to see play smaller venues which tend to have either very few wheelchair spaces or none at all.
This of course only becomes a relevant consideration if the venue has wheelchair access, which I have had the displeasure of finding out can be the case.
My favourite band, The 1975, were playing an intimate gig in London a few months ago and the venue told me they were not wheelchair accessible due to the structure of the building.
Once again I completely refuse to accept this excuse. The gig was right around my birthday which just added insult to injury!
More recently I tried to get tickets for a concert (which may or may not be for a former One Direction member!).
After redialling the venue’s dedicated access line about 50 times (I wish I was exaggerating) I got through to an actual human being less than 15 minutes after the line opened, only to find that all 8 tickets for wheelchair users had been sold for both concert dates.
While I’m not the kind of girl who would cry at this news, I was disappointed by the disproportionate amount of wheelchair seats to a venue of about 3,500.
I accept that there are fewer wheelchair users than non wheelchair users but there are enough of us to warrant more seating/spaces than we currently have.
For some disabled people, the chance to go out to a film or a concert is rare because it can be difficult to have a carer/PA come with you. So this makes it all the more disappointing when you tackle one obstacle, only for another one to pop up.