Looking at accessible tickets
Recently, I was lucky enough to go and enjoy the magic that is Kooza, by Cirque Du Soleil, and my experience there got me thinking and now we have another blog.
New Zealand was one of the first signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008. The Convention aims to ‘promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities’.
In my mind, this encompasses all areas of our lives and therefore extends to full and equal opportunities to participate in society. Reading between the lines, I feel that this is effectively saying that there should be no discrimination. And this non-discrimination, in my view, should include the ability to access entertainment, and therefore, ticket pricing.
It’s my experience that there is a discrepancy in how venues and event management groups interpret ‘full and equal’, when they cater for accessible tickets. Over the last few years, I have direct experience of this.
- Auckland Rugby Union offer free tickets (including one companion), for Super Rugby Games, in one designated area.
- Pop-Up Globe offer accessible tickets in only one section, but they are discounted a little from other seating in the same section, and are slightly higher in price than the cheapest available ticket.
- Mt Smart Stadium (when hosting Adele), offered tickets only in one section, and they were priced around mid-range.
- Cirque Du Soleil in the tent, Ellerslie, offered tickets only in the premium section, at the premium pricing.
- Spark Arena, offer 3 sections, with varying visibility, at 3 different prices.
I understand and fully sympathise with, the difficulty in meeting accessibility obligations, particularly when the venue is a temporary structure. Upon saying that though, Pop-Up Globe and Cirque Du Soleil have obviously taken 2 different approaches. Pop-Up Globe seems to have realised that when accessibility is not a need, many people choose the cheaper option; as such, by acknowledging the venue is just not capable of safely seating those with mobility issues anywhere else, they offer a modest discount and ensure that these tickets are as affordable as others. However, I feel that the agent coordinating the venue for Cirque Du Soleil got it wrong. Yes, maybe the only safe place for wheelchair users is ringside, but that is not the seating I would have chosen if able-bodied. Aside from not wanting to spend such a ludicrous amount of money, I felt too close to the stage, unable to enjoy the full visual impact which they never fail to deliver. I was uncomfortable during the acts which occurred at height; straining your neck to watch is bad enough, but trying doing that with a headrest attached to your wheelchair.
I’m not asking for free access (though cheaper should be the norm if my experience is limited due to access issues). I just would like the option to balance price with experience, to choose cheaper or pricier tickets as my budget/enthusiasm dictates. Most other people can - but this is not always possible for those of us purchasing ‘accessible’ tickets.