Festival of Delight
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Wheelchair
Having grown up loving the annual Festival in Edinburgh it's been upsetting to see barriers to access...changing that takes time and a lot of effort. I LOVE how much is being done. I went to the box office to collect my tickets and they told me clearly where the access lift was and where to go. They also told me to look out for staff members on the way in case I had any trouble...that reassured me it was ok to ask which is always a worry. Teviot is a large University building with lots of space for various performers. At the entrance there is a huge sign stating where is accessible with wheelchair symbols at the top...all of it can now be accessed. The access lift on outside of building is a short journey and a member of staff made sure we (my daughter and I) were ok. We then went inside and again it was clear where we were to be. We were incredibly early and there's not masses of space for waiting, the corridors are used for those exiting the previous performance and I hate feeling I'm in the way, through a door to one side it was possible to wait until the event before us had been cleared without feeling awkward...phew. The staff manager came through on her way to another location and asked if myself and a mum with a child in a wheelchair were being looked after, I love when people pay attention to that, it shows they want it all to work. Once we could go into the event the performer actually greeted us as we went in, which is quite unusual in my festival experience and again we sat in the space for chair users. Some of these spaces which are not purpose built are quite small and we had to move to let people slide into the row, there was space to do so but it's worth noting. The performance was larger than 'intimate gigs' probably are, there were 36 others with us, but small enough everyone could see the 'stage' and hear what was happening. We saw Eshaan Akbar:Not for Prophet and he was hilarious. I'm often offended by comedians who poke fun at others from disability to religion and although he did pick on religion is was in terms of what HE'S been through rather than moking someone else. I could relate to what he was talking and joking about and when he mentioned impairments I thought I was going to be upset, only to discover he is deaf in his left ear and uses a hearing aid. He covered topics like immigration, parental relationships, growing up, work, and spoke candidly about the importance of finding ones identity in 2017 when the world appears to be losing it's own. I left still smiling and have already spoken to friends to say not only are the venue and staff great at what they do but that things are improving and that the attitude and atmosphere is changing too. It's taken a long time, but it's gathering pace which is exciting to see. I'd have no worries about returning to Teviot for an event and I'm delighted to see that not all comedians take joy in belittling others, a breath of fresh air on all counts I think!
Transport & Parking
Parking city centre is not easy, on street parking is available but there's a walk to the venue from where you can leave your car. Bus transport is good and stops are close to the location.
Signage is now clear and staff are on site to direct and guide you. The external lift to 1st floor is to one side of the main door and is easy to control. Once inside to get to any floor staff will direct you to a panelled wall which opens to reveal a hidden lift (meaning only those who need it know where it is, we did not have to queue at all to use this) At the lift and inside is the chart stating what number to press for which named venue you want so it's simple too.
On one of the floors the hidden room also has access to the fully accessible toilet, I could turn my manual with plenty space which is always a relief. It was clean and stocked which is also good to see. Again, as with the lift, being 'hidden' it's not being abused by others and there's no changing table to cause any controversy.
They actually ALL went out of their way to make sure we were catered for, something I don't think ever happens! Even the staff manager to time to ask if we were happy with everything. The security guy who walked us into the building and showed us the lift access was relaxed and informed which is a huge relief.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
I'd recommend this to everyone now that so much work has been done. Feeling that you're valued is not common. Feeling like the staff and performers WANT you to be there is unheard of to my mind...changing that is powerful and encourages me that I'll be able to manage to go to more performances without fear or anxiety about being in the way or being a nuisance. I'm really glad the Gilded Balloon team have done some training on this or that the individuals I met are as aware as they are...it makes a world of positive difference! Long may it continue.