Half Access board member Sean Gonzalez met Tiffanie at a show in Denver, Colorado. At the show, Tiffanie was front row at Summit Music Hall for Picturesque, Silverstein & Tonight Alive. We’re excited to bring to light an avid and excited show goer with a disability. Tiffanie has Sacral Agenesis, meaning the last few vertebrae of her spinal cord did not form in utero.
Where are you based out of and where do you see shows in relation?
I live in Wyoming, and I travel to Denver, Colorado for most of my shows with the occasional one in other towns/cities in Colorado.
In terms of venue accessibility, what was the best treatment you have received?
Both the Fillmore Auditorium and the Summit Music Hall in Denver, Colorado have the best treatment. Both venues have very helpful staff, allow those with disabilities first entrance into the venue, and have ADA sections with a great view of the stage. Both venues are also well accessible, with all areas of the venue being able to be reached via wheelchair or crutches.
What was the worst treatment?
The Gothic Theater in Denver. The ADA section had a completely obstructed view of the stage and was only large enough for two small manual chairs, or one motorized chair. I was also yelled at by their staff for trying to move to an area with a better view of the stage.
How would you have wanted that situation to be handled so in the future venues know how to be better?
Venues should make their ADA sections in an area that can easily see the stage from a sitting position, and if it isn’t able to be done, shouldn’t prevent me from moving to be able to see the show that I paid to watch.
What is your favorite style of music?
My favorite style of music is metal or rock.
Best or favorite show you have seen?
Panic! at the Disco at Fiddler’s Green.
Knowing not all venues are entirely accessible, what keeps you coming back to see bands?
I’ve found at least in Colorado that the venues are willing to make any accommodations they can for me when I go to a venue, and I really enjoy the energy that comes with live music.
Any advice to able bodied people on how to be more aware of accessibility at shows?
Don’t try and help me unless I ask for it. I’m aware of my limitations a lot more intimately than anyone else, and if I’ve gone to an area, that’s where I want to be, I don’t want people trying to dictate what I can do and where I can be, especially not strangers. Also, it’s super rude to step over a person in a wheelchair, or move their chair. If you wouldn’t do it to someone who wasn’t in a chair, don’t do it to me.
Keep up with Half / Access by subscribing to our monthly newsletter!
The Half Access mission is to make live music more accessible, and in most of our recent work we’ve focused on the experience of disabled fans attending shows. There’s another huge part of venue accessibility, which is making sure that disabled musicians can access venues. But, before playing shows comes learning an instrument, which can often look different for disabled musicians. I got the chance to interview a few disabled musicians to share their experiences with adapting how they learn and play their instruments in a way that works with their disabilities.
Josh Rosenberg, 24, graduated from UMass Lowell in spring 2017 with a bachelor’s of music in music business. This year marks the first year he has been able to work only in the festival and live music industry, specializing in accessibility, without any side jobs. He’s worked at about 20 different festivals, some just once and some each year over the past four years.
Luciano Ferrara is a singer-songwriter from Albany, NY, who after several years as a solo artist, recently made the transition to full-band supported act, performing as Luciano Ferrara and the Ensuing Disaster. Also a creative writing student at SUNY Albany, he just finished his undergrad thesis on a book he is writing about lumberjack folklore. In this Access Interview, Ferrara talks to us about the unpredictability of type 1 diabetes and his experience with accessibility as a performer.