Disabled music fans are fed up being discriminated against at gigs

Rachel page - you cant stop the beatweb

You Can't Stop the Beat organiser Rachel Page

Young music fans are staging their own Glasgow gig in a bid to highlight how music venues can provide them with a better service

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13th July 2018 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

A young disabled music fan is launching a campaign to make gigs more accessible for her and her friends.

Rachel Page says she’s fed up missing out on gigs because of a shortage of tickets for accessible areas, and having to choose just one friend or family member to go with her.

The young music fan has a learning disability and cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and says she feels left behind and discriminated against at gigs.

A member of Enable Scotland’s Active Community of Empowerment (ACE) youth network, Rachel, 23, and her friends have decided to take the matter into their own hands.

The youngsters are organising their own gig – You Can’t Stop the Beat – in Glasgow in August in a bid to find out how difficult it is to organise a fully accessible night out.

They will then share their knowledge with some of Scotland’s top venues, such as the SSE Hydro, Edinburgh Playhouse and DF Concerts.

Rachel said: “I love music and have been to a few gigs – but it’s not the same experience as everyone else gets to enjoy.

“The first hurdle is getting the tickets. You can be stuck on the phone for ages to try and get the few accessible tickets that are available. I’ve been disappointed so many times and it’s not like I can rock up at the venue on the night in the hope of getting one.

“I use a wheelchair which means that I almost always have to sit in a specific area, away from my friends. Disabled tickets usually come with a companion seat, so it’s a choice of picking one friend out of the group to sit with me or having my support worker next to me the whole time. It’s not really the gig experience others get.

“If I go to a gig or theatre show with my family, my mum usually sits with me and my dad and younger sister have to sit somewhere else, which isn’t fair.”

Research by Enable shows that 39% of young people with learning disabilities say they don’t see their friends outside of school and shockingly 16% say they don’t have any friends at all.

What’s more 60% of young people who have a learning disability say they feel lonely at school.

Enable Scotland’s ACE Network is designed to help overcome some of the challenges young people with learning disability have in making friends.

The You Can’t Stop the Beat gig is being supported following a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the group.

The free gig will be held on Sunday 12 August at the Scottish Youth Theatre and will feature a silent disco, karaoke, gaming and relaxation zones.

“We want to give people like me the chance to enjoy a gig without having to go through a military operation in advance,” explains Rachel.

“It shouldn’t be this hard for young people with learning disabilities to enjoy a night out, to be a little spontaneous – it’s not right that we’re being left behind and discriminated against. That’s what we want to change, and if we get to build our skills in organising events and boost our confidence – and enjoy some great music along the way – then even better."

The gig will also feature live music from artists who have learning disabilities. The full line up will be announced in the coming weeks. The event is for young people aged eight to 26 and will host up to 300 music fans.

Jan Savage, director of campaigns and membership at Enable, said: “Socialising, attending gigs and staying out late with friends is a rite of passage for most young people – one that many of us take for granted.

“But as our research shows, in Scotland young people with learning disabilities are struggling to make and keep friends. For them, a night out at a concert is not the experience it should be, but rather highlights the many barriers that still exist to an equal society for all.

“You Can’t Stop the Beat is the very best of grass-roots activism, with young people taking the lead in driving the change our society needs. They told us this mattered to them, and we have supported them to take charge and do something about it.”

Reserve tickets for You Can’t Stop the Beat.