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Half of Disabled Consumers Face Access Struggles: Which Music Venues Lead in Accessibility?

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In a world where music is readily available at our fingertips through streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, it is easy to overlook the wonder and joy evoked by experiencing live music. Amidst the backdrop of many ageing music venues, which UK music spots truly excel in accessibility?

With half of disabled consumers encountering accessibility barriers at live events, experts at Bonusfinder.co.uk have conducted a thorough analysis of key factors. These include the ratio of wheelchair seats to total capacity, availability of accessible entrances, and provision of wheelchair viewing areas, with the aim of identifying the music stadium offering the best accessibility.

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Key findings 

  • London’s Royal Albert Hall (89.4/100) is the UK’s most accessible music venue, ticking every box apart from wheelchair capacity at 4 per every 1,000 seats.
  • Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow is the least accessible music venue in the research with an accessibility score of 30.6/100.
  • The Music Hall in Aberdeen and the Darlington Arts Centre tie for 12th place with the highest number of wheelchair seats, each offering 20 wheelchair seats per 1000 people.

The UK’s most accessible music venues

# Music venue Capacity  Ramps lifts  Accessible toilets Accessible Entrances Accessible ticket counters Wheelchair viewing areas wheelchair seats per 1000 people Accessibility Score /100
1 London Royal Albert Hall 4 89.4
2 Southbank Centre, London 8 85.3
3 Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 4 84.6
4 Belfast SSE Arena Belfast 3 81.2 
5 Birmingham Resorts World Arena 5 80.8
6 Manchester 02 Apollo 3 77.0
7 Liverpool M&S Bank Arena 9 75.1
8 Anvil, Basingstoke 4 74.9
9 Pavilion Theatre, Worthing 7 73.4
10 The Palladium, London 2 72.5

The most accessible music venues in the UK

BonusFinder.co.uk‘s analysis reveals that London’s Royal Albert Hall tops the charts as the most accessible music venue, boasting an impressive score of 89.4 /100. Since its opening in 1871, this iconic venue has welcomed audiences to a myriad of world-class performances, spanning from rock concerts to classical recitals, all within its vast seating capacity exceeding 5,000. While renowned for its stunning architecture, the Royal Albert Hall doesn’t compromise on accessibility, offering essential features like accessible toilets, lifts, ramps, and induction hearing loops, among others. However, it’s worth noting that it provides only 4 wheelchair seats per 1,000 capacity.

In second position is the Southbank Centre with an accessibility score of 85.3/100. The Southbank Centre is located in London and offers an array of music genres for varying tastes, including jazz and electronic music, alongside being used as a venue for festivals and experimental music showcases. The venue offers accessible seats, ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, accessible entrances, wheelchair viewing areas, hearing loops, audio descriptive commentary, assistive animals and companion tickets. However, it falls short in providing accessible parking alongside sensory suites that offer immersive environments designed to stimulate one or more senses, offering therapeutic, entertainment, or experiential benefits. Notably, the Southbank Centre provides 8 wheelchair seats per 1,000 capacity.

In third place is Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall with an accessibility score of 84.6/100. Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, home to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, offers a rich musical experience with its historic charm, state-of-the-art facilities, and diverse range of performances spanning classical, jazz, pop, and more. The hall is home to accessible seats, ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, accessible entrances, wheelchair viewing areas, hearing loops, audio descriptive commentary, assistive animals as well as companion tickets and accessible parking. Likewise, The Philharmonic Hall has 4 wheelchair seats per 1,000 capacity. 

The least accessible music venues in the UK

The least accessible music venue is the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow with a score of 30.6/100. Despite its reputation for hosting iconic performances across rock, indie, pop, and electronic genres, the venue’s accessibility falls short, with limited features like ramps, wheelchair viewing seats, and carer tickets advertised. Additionally, it offers just 3 wheelchair seats per 1,000 capacity.

Scala, a beloved live music venue in London, unfortunately ranks second to last for accessibility, scoring 36.3/100. This is primarily due to its age, dating back to 1920, resulting in significant accessibility features missing, such as lifts, ramps, accessible toilets, ticket counters, induction hearing loops, and parking facilities.

Methodology:

  1. Bonusfinder.co.uk sought to discover the UK music venues that are the most accessible to fans.
  2. They created a seed list by looking into sources that explore the most popular venues including Timeout, Stereoboard, Meetmeatthepyramidstage, prsformusic
  3. They accessed music venue on a multitude of factors, these included:
    1. Stadium capacity 
    2. Accessible seats 
    3. Ramps
    4. Lifts
    5. Accessible toilets
    6. Accessible entrances
    7. Accessible ticket counters
    8. Wheelchair viewing areas
    9. Hearing Induction loop 
    10. Audio descriptive commentary 
    11. Assistive animals welcome 
    12. Sensory suites
    13. Accessible parking 
    14. Carer tickets
    15. Number of wheelchair seats 
    16. Ratio of wheelchair seats to overall capacity 
  4. The information above was sourced from the venue’s website alongside calling up the venue’s accessibility line where possible. If some information was not advertised on the website or unavailable through calls, then it is assumed the facility is not present.
  5. It is worth noting that St David’s Hall is currently undergoing refurbishments, so is not accessible to the public.
  6. Only venues above 1,000 capacity were included in the data set. 
  7. An accessibility score out of 100 was created, the higher the score the more accessible the venue can be considered.
  8. Data was collected from 20/02/24-27/02/24.
  9. The full data set can be found here.