So long and goodnight…

TL;DR

In February 2024, the Half Access board of directors unanimously agreed to dissolve the organization. The organization’s remaining assets will be split evenly and donated to Diversify The StageFriends of Noisethe National Independent Venue Foundation, and the PTM Foundation. The board agreed that these organizations share our values of making live music more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible for all.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Half Access at any point, in any way since its founding in 2017.

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As 2023 came to a close and the board and I reflected on the year since I stepped down from the organization, we couldn’t help but feel that Half Access had unfortunately reached its natural end. Despite significant efforts to ramp up organizational capacity, we just couldn’t get the organization back to the level of functioning we were at before the pandemic, which we felt was required to fulfill our mission, including maintaining and updating our database of accessibility info to keep it current and accurate.

We’re at a very different place in time and history than we were when I founded the organization in 2017. Running a nonprofit that requires full-time work without the budget to pay people to give it full-time attention is simply unsustainable and inequitable. The reality is that for most of Half Access’ existence, I just happened to be at a time and place in life (being a college student) where I could freely give my time to growing and maintaining the organization with the support of terrific friends, board members, and volunteers along the way. Since 2020, when life took me down a new path, I have not been able to give the organization that same love and attention, and the average person does not have that kind of free time to give. Most folks are in work and/or school full time, on top of being disabled or chronically ill, and have little to nothing left to give at the end of the day – and that’s okay. Existing is exhausting and it cannot and should not be on individuals to bear the weight of this work alone.

Accessibility in live music is more important now than ever. 1 in 4 adults in the US have a disability, yet many concert venues remain inaccessible. Many have stairs without another way in, or everything is accessible except the restrooms. Some venues have everything except a safe space for disabled people to watch the show. Most have no accessibility for people with sensory processing disorders, and way too many venues prioritize making money off of VIP/premium seating areas instead of creating a decent accessible viewing area. We’d often get asked how any of this was legal, so to answer that question one last time – many venues were built before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and haven’t been renovated since. Others fall under the historic buildings exemption or claim that increased accessibility would cause an undue financial burden. The ADA is an important, historic piece of legislation, but there is no one enforcing it (aside from individuals through lawsuits), and it never guarantees things will be truly, fully accessible even if it were enforced. 

It’s up to all of us to care about accessibility. Venues are responsible for making the changes necessary to welcome disabled fans, artists, staff and crew to their spaces, and it’s up to fans, artists, labels, etc. to hold them accountable. Some of the companies who own the most venues have the most egregious accessibility issues. In those cases, it’s often not a lack of resources, but a lack of awareness, care, and willingness to change. Everyone has a part to play. The end of Half Access is not the end of this work. Organizations like RAMP’d, Accessible Festivals, and Attitude is Everything have been doing amazing work for years. Friends of mine are already envisioning new efforts to continue these conversations. It is, however, time for the music industry to step up and take a more active role in these efforts because everyone deserves to safely and fully enjoy live music, and we shouldn’t have to beg for that to become reality.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support and believe in the mission to make live music accessible, to everyone who contributed to or utilized our database of accessibility information on over 500+ venues, to anyone who attended or participated in our virtual panels or music festival, bought merch, donated, said hi when we tabled a show, let us send stickers on tour with your band, made sure every venue you played was in our database, volunteered, spread the word, and to everyone who carries this work with them into the future. 

In solidarity,

Cassie Wilson

Founder of Half Access