Woman refused entry to West End show over wheelchair

Disability action group leader speaks at cladding protest

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However, they were turned away after it was discovered that they would be unable to access and enjoy the West End venue.

The couple had been on the way back to Ireland after a trip in Amsterdam, but decided to stop over in London along the way.

She told MyLondon: “When we got to the location I immediately saw the stairs leading to the venue and was like ‘oh God, we’re in trouble.’

“My boyfriend went inside to ask someone where there was wheelchair entry and at that point two staff members came out and told me there was no way in.”

She added: “Even if there was the possibility of two very strong people carrying me in, it would have been a fire hazard if anything were to happen.

“The staff members were lovely and they were very apologetic, but I understand that they couldn’t really do anything about the situation right there and then. I was very upset.”

Niamh, a disability advocate, said she was “upset” at being turned away from the venue and took to Twitter where her tweet sent shockwaves as people replied with similar experiences.

Niamh said: “When I tweeted it out, a guy I follow who lives in London, asked how the production company had gotten the permit to conduct such an event at a place which was so inaccessible, the year is 2023, there should be more accessibility.

“Similarly to Dublin, many of the buildings in London are quite old and can’t be renovated but then I don’t really understand why a different venue couldn’t have been sourced if that is the case.

“These things obviously have months of planning that go into them and more consideration could have been taken into how accessibility is organised for the venue. Overall, that whole experience put a bit of a dampener on the week.”

Niamh commented that she wanted to share her experiences in order to raise awareness of what disabled people go through each day and what happens when provisions are not in place to support them.

Although improvements have been made in recent years, there are still great restrictions for those who are not able-bodied.

Many do not take into account how much forward planning needs to be done and Niamh says venues should take more responsibility for their lack of access.

Niamh said of her experiences: “In the vast majority of cases, if I’m going to a show or concert it will say on the website whether there is step-free access or wheelchair space, or something that indicates to me that it’s not suitable for a wheelchair.

“I didn’t see any information like that on their website so I just assumed that it would be accessible and I did have some feelings of guilt on the night because I was thinking ‘oh gosh, I should have researched more, but I don’t think the onus should be on wheelchair users – the information should be readily available.”

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In response, creator of the show in question, Brian Hook, said: “We realise despite our efforts not all third-party ticket holders share the FAQs section when supplying show information to agents and the site is on occasion temperamental).

“Talking about access is important and the whole industry needs to be more open and work as hard as it can to do so.

“The Davies Street Building (a temporary use space) is being knocked down, with the last performance of Gatsby on 7th Jan so we are in full get out mode with the building.”

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