If you care about equality and have any influence over how tickets are sold for your venue, please read on.
I realise I’m at risk of repeating myself as I’ve talked about this subject several times in previous articles for UK Theatre. I’ve also bashed on about it at various seminars, conferences and meetings in the past few years – and I will keep doing so relentlessly until we really start to see more progress on the changes that are necessary.
In their January 2014 State of Access Report, Attitude is Everything, an organisation that works to improve access to music events, quoted the following in respect of the experience of disabled people booking for live music events:
- 95% had experienced disability-related issues when booking tickets.
- 88% felt discriminated against due to an inaccessible booking system.
- 83% had been put off buying tickets after finding it inaccessible.
- 47% considered taking legal action as a result.
- 75% of disabled people would prefer to be able to book online
- Only 2 out of 10 venues offer online tickets to disabled people
OK, that’s a survey related to live music, but are theatres really doing any better? We seem to have hit a point where people have just decided it’s alright to have a dedicated phone line for access bookings – that’s enough. Job done.
It’s not! If you sell tickets online and you have not explored your ability to provide that same service for disabled people, then you are potentially being discriminatory. Essentially, you may be offering a service that you are preventing disabled people from using because they are disabled.
It’s 2017 and this needs to change.
This article is really addressed to venue members of UK Theatre who, on the whole, will have pretty autonomous control over their ticketing. The solution is relatively simple - ensure that your accessible positions are available online as a matter of urgency so that all customers can book tickets in the same way.
There are some excellent schemes out there to help you with this. For instance, evidencing disability is a big concern for high profile rock and pop events and for some other people as well, particularly when offering free companion tickets. There are a couple of schemes to help with this – the Hynt Card (though only in Wales) and the Access Card can make it possible for customers to only have to provide their details once and for the card to be used in multiple venues accepting it as proof of disability.
There’s much more to say about this than can be included here, which is why STAR has been organising some workshops specifically focused on ticketing. We ran the first of these last December and it sold out very quickly so we are now holding regional workshops in York, Bristol, Liverpool as well as another in London.
Delivered by specialist Martin Austin of Nimbus Disability, these workshops are being run by STAR in association with UK Theatre, the Society of London Theatre and the National Arenas Association. Generous discounts are available for members of those organisations.
You can find more information and book places on the workshop using the links below:
York 30 March 11am-4pm York Theatre Royal - Click here for information and booking
Bristol 25 April 11am-4pm Bristol Hippodrome - Click here for information and booking
Liverpool 27 April 11am-4pm Liverpool Arena and Conference Centre - Click here for information and booking
London 28 April 1pm-5pm SOLT/UK Theatre Offices - Click here for information and booking
UK Theatre Members receive a 50% discount on these workshops. To find out how to claim you booking please visit the My Discounts page.
“Very interesting and interactive. A great subject that needs looking at more seriously and in more detail by everyone involved."
“The workshop leader was incredibly knowledgeable and I found it really useful to hear from his experience. I was particularly interested in learning more about legislation. I now feel more confident talking about disabled people and their needs.”
“A very interesting session which has left me feeling more confident!”