To Frank Turner, From a Disabled Concertgoer
Dear Frank Turner,
You are a talented musician with an amazing voice. These last few months you’ve toured the country promoting your aptly named “Be More Kind” album.
Lately you’ve lent your voice to other projects beyond your music, including championing the rights of your disabled fans — proving that attitude is indeed everything.
I was at your latest gig in Southampton, near your hometown of Winchester. You talked to the audience about being the face of Stay Up Late, a charity that helps disabled people maintain their social lives by enabling them to stay up late with appropriate assistance, thereby not restricting them to a lifetime of 9 to 5 activities planned around a carer’s rigid schedule. Yes, disabled people #stayuplate too.
My heart swelled when you spoke to the audience, as I enjoyed the music from the disabled platform at the back. I’m lucky enough to not need “Stay Up Late” but I could tell others on the platform knew personally of the effect of your campaign. What you said mattered, as a whole hall of people of all different abilities cheered and backed your pledge to Be More Kind.
You have an amazing voice. I hope you’ll continue to use your platform to rally through your fans to help their disabled community. We are small but mighty. We love live music. We need your voice.
I write this letter because we do deserve to stay up late. We deserve access to live music with no barriers. But as you spoke, I was struck with a laughable sense of irony, as we could barely see you give your amazing speech. This time, the “barrier” to the live music was poorly positioned equipment — meaning disabled fans only saw half of you all evening, blocked by a tower of sound gear. We didn’t have the luxury of moving elsewhere.
I’ve lost track of how many gigs have been ruined by simple and painfully obvious access issues, be it stairs, locked disabled toilets or blocked views. All it takes is one musician to walk to the disabled seating, sit down and ask: Would I be happy to pay to sit here?
Please use your amazing voice. Walk to the back before the show. Help us prove that disabled people can not only stay up late, but expect the same experience as everyone else. The venues will listen — you are bringing in their tickets, their money.
We are small but mighty.
Use your amazing voice and continue to be more kind. After all, as your song goes:
Something as simple as rock ‘n’ roll can save us all.
Thank you, Frank.