The wise Wil Wagner once said, “Music is for everyone”. As it should be! Music, gigs, and festivals can bring so much joy to so many people. Show accessibility isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t the same for every person. However, just because you might need a little extra help to make sure you can enjoy a show, doesn’t mean you should miss out or have less of an experience, am I right?
Dina Bassile certainly doesn’t think so. Who is she, you ask? Just a one-woman powerhouse taking disability access at gigs into her own hands. As a wheelchair user, festival aficionado and general gig fiend, she has created Tibi (which means “for you” in Latin), an access consultancy group designed to act as a mediator between events organisers and access-challenged punters. The goal behind its inception? To ensure equal event enjoyment for all.
Bassile says it best herself: “Well what Tibi is, is me going out and sharing advice that no one else can because I have that unique perspective that can help to make the experience the best it can be for people of all abilities. I’ll go to a festival and work with their access liaison, test out their facilities, and offer practical advice to improve things if they need it.”
Accessibility, and in particular, disability access, is an essential logistical component of events of any size, but often it’s not given the attention it requires. Placing wheelchair users or those with limited mobility in sectioned areas off to the side of a show or at the back of a crowd results in optimal safety but something of a sub-par event experience. If you hate it when a tall person stands in front of you in a moshpit, imagine what it’s like to be at the back of a crowd where EVERYONE is taller than you! “Generally, festivals have the funding for accessibility, and they’re open to advice. It’s just that they don’t think to ask because they don’t see the problems the same way I do. Maybe it’s just about moving a viewing platform so people can see better, or improving lighting so there’s better visibility from a distance. Sometimes all they need is a ramp! Tibi is here to help fill in the blanks.”
Tibi exists to help event organisers find that balance between patron safety and showing all gig-goers a good time. It’s all about equality in the experience. With her university education, personal experience, and many-a-gig under her belt, Dina Basille is more than equipped to help make that happen! Her biggest focus right now is good old-fashioned networking, connecting with organisers of festivals and events, big and small, to offer her invaluable knowledge: “I’m reaching out to as many event liaisons as I can, in particular, with the smaller festivals and working with them to see how to improve the accessibility of their events. Once they see how easy it can be, I’m hoping that it starts to set a standard for how people approach event accessibility!”
As we have discussed throughout this article, festival accessibility is a two-way street, between both organisers and attendees. So, what if you happen to be one of the people who needs a little extra help to make sure you get the most out of your gig? Pals, Bassile has some advice for you: “Speak up! Make a scene! You paid the same as everyone else and you should expect the same kind of experience. Just because you might need something little extra to make that happen, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for it. If you don’t get the experience, at least if you make a complaint maybe they’ll change it for someone else the next time around. You never know what kind of impact you can have.”