For many of us, music is a lifeline, it’s something that has got us through some hard times. We have bands and artists that we look up to, who have helped us through some challenges, so we would love to meet them to thank them for everything which is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Bands and artists often do VIP packages which sometimes includes a meet and greet, however, purchasing these isn’t easy when you’re a disabled fan.
I’ve recently had two experiences where I tried to get meet and greet packages for two of my favourite artists.
In 2017, my all-time favourite artist, Jessie J announced that she was going on tour, I bought disabled access tickets for myself and my friend, then a few days before tour started, Jessie announced that you could purchase VIP upgrades. As I had disabled access tickets, I didn’t know if we would be able to purchase them or whether we would need one or two. The venue didn’t know, they told me to contact the promoters which I did. After several emails and social media messages they finally got back to me, they said that they would contact Jessie’s management and then get back to me. This never happened and by the time the concert came around, the packages had sold out and I missed out on the opportunity.
My second experience is thankfully one that has a happy ending, but not without a lot of stress and frustration. Last year, Shawn Mendes announced his self-titled world tour. Myself and my friend wanted to get VIP packages which include a meet and greet. We thought that the arena would be selling them but they weren’t, the ticket company told us to go online but we couldn’t do this because it wasn’t accessible so I decided to contact the promoters. It took 6 weeks of constant calls for me to finally purchase them for us. I can’t explain the relief I felt, but should it have taken 6 weeks when non-disabled fans could purchase them in a matter of minutes? Of course not.
A survey of 349 people conducted by the charity Attitude is Everything found that 75 people experienced problems booking a VIP/meet and greet.
Procedures need to be put in place to ensure that disabled fans have equal access to these opportunities. Information on purchasing these packages needs to be online or be given to the venue, there should be a free/discounted personal assistant ticket scheme, just like there is for general tickets, and the whole experience should be accessible for disabled fans.
We want these opportunities like everyone else and we should have equal access, regardless of our disability.