US-based non-profit organisation Accessible Festivals has launched a new programme to provide free access tickets to recreational experiences like concerts, festivals, and conventions for disabled music fans and their loved ones.
Christened the Dan Grover Memorial Ticket Grant Program, the initiative – which they say marks “a huge step forward towards accessibility for all throughout major events across the U.S” – is partnering with the largest festivals in the country. Events participating include: Austin City Limits Music Festival, BottleRock Napa Valley, Electric Daisy Carnival, Lollapalooza, Rolling Loud NY, and Stagecoach.
The idea for Accessible Festivals' Dan Grover Memorial Ticket Grant Program was born out of the organisation's founder, Austin Whitney's, own personal experience. In 2007, Whitney was injured in a car accident that severed his spinal cord and paralysed him from the waist down. He was consumed with depression and anxiety about his new life living with a disability. Eight months later, he attended Coachella, his first music festival.
An official press release stated: “For the first time since his spinal cord injury, he was able to smile and simply enjoy life. Music festivals like this one got him through the most difficult challenge of his life. With the realization of the importance of festival accessibility, he decided to devote his life to ensuring people of all abilities can have an equal opportunity to experience live music and recreational activities to the fullest extent possible.”
The program also aims to keep the legacy of Dan Grover alive, who turned his passion of music into a profession by becoming one of the first Accessibility Consultants in the live music industry. He led ADA Compliance operations on many of America’s largest shows including Electric Forest, Lockn’, Life is Beautiful, Outside Lands, and many more. Grover assisted thousands of disabled guests in enjoying music and was a fierce advocate for greater inclusion and accessibility.
Individuals impacted by newly acquired, temporary, or lifelong disabilities are encouraged to apply for free access to their favorite events.
All the festivals participating in the program have made a commitment to all their disabled fans and have well-established ADA Compliance programs. With many friends and partners in the industry, Accessible Festivals plans to add many more festivals and other recreational events to their list. With support from live music tastemaker Live for Live Music, Accessible Festivals aims to expand live event access for all across the U.S. for years to come.
To donate, learn more about or apply for Accessible Festivals’ Dan Grover Memorial Ticket Grant Program, visit accessiblefestivals.org/ticketing and keep up-to-date with Accessible Festivals on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and their official website.
Issues surrounding accessibility to live music continue to make headlines in the UK in 2022.
Earlier this year, Robin Millar, chair of both Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group and disability equality charity Scope UK, called on Glastonbury Festival to take action over Noel Gallagher’s conduct during this year’s event, and subsequent comments he made about disabled festival-goers in its aftermath. You can read his open letter here.
Upon winning the Campaigner honour at the Women In Music Awards 2017, Suzanne Bull MBE – CEO of Attitude Is Everything, a non-profit organisation which improves deaf and disabled people's access to live music by working in partnership with venues, audiences, artists and the music – spoke about the barriers she has tried to break down in her career.
“I had to prove that disabled audiences wanted to go to see live music and that it was a growing market, and one with loyalty – so if the music industry did things right, they would build up a loyal customer base,” Bull told Music Week. “Knowing that the music industry is very commercial, we made a compelling business case. Yes, of course, there’s the moral argument and legal argument, you have to use those cases as well, but really it was the commercial impact. Bringing it back to, ‘Disabled people do things with their lives – and this is what they choose to do.’”
You can revisit Bull’s interview here.