It is hard to understand how an organisation with over 30 years of experience in organising the same event, suddenly messes up on a daily basis and large scale. But the organisation of the Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014 did manage exactly this.
I’d heard, that after the opening concert on the Festival’s first night, most of the doors of the Grote Zaal in the Tivoli-Vredenburg building which can hold 700 or more people, had remained shut. An acquaintance who had attended this concert said, if anything had gone wrong, people would have been crushed. (See part 5)
The first Saturday of the festival and first day of the fringe concerts, there had been scenes on the escalators of the Tivoli-Vredenburg building. Apparently, after over 30 years of experience, nobody had anticipated the crowd willing to queue for tickets. At 09:45, the queue snaked from the closed escalators to the upper floors, across the ground floor and out of the building into Utrecht. Those at the end would never be able to get fringe concert tickets or have enough time to reach that day’s first fringe concert venues. A few realised this and left.
The escalators to the ticket boot – four flours up – did not start rolling till after 10:00. Then it took ages to reach the top floor, where a new queue formed in front of the ticket boot. It took ages to get tickets, as both queues dealt with requests for fringe and ordinary concert tickets.
Some folks still had to make up their minds which concerts they wanted to attend in front of the ticket desk. In the meantime, the escalators kept rolling. People were unable to get off. It took security a while to figure out they had better stop the escalators before a major accident happened.
At the end of that Saturday, I met a mother and daughter who were two of the many who had witnessed the scene. Mum was in a wheelchair. The two of them were left figuring out which elevator to use to get to the ticket boot. At one of their concerts they had to wait over 20 minutes, before someone finally bothered to open the right doors to the right floor for their concert.
They were not the only ones depending on wheelchair, scoot mobile, crutches, or other means of support to help them get around. These people were regularly left to fend for themselves. In the Tivoli-Vredenburg building, not all elevators were for the public. Not all elevators stopped at the right floor. Signposting to the right escalator, elevator, floor, was minimal to non-existing.
Other venues were simply not, or very difficult to access for handicapped people – but of course, this was not indicated in the festival brochure, nor on the website. Apparently, it was presumed people were familiar with this. No idea how non-Utrecht-citizens were able to know this. (See f.i part 5 again)
On one of the days I attended the festival, I was on a Tivoli-Vredenburg escalator going down, when I noticed someone in a scoot mobile getting out of an elevator at ground floor level. Once out of the elevator, he needed to manoeuvre his vehicle towards the glass panelled doors. Only then did he notice he was unable to get these doors to open.
When I at last reached ground floor level, I had to run to the information desk and warn volunteers someone needed assistance. These volunteers at the information stand were too busy chatting to each other to notice that someone – in clear view of the information stand – needed their assistance.
At Kube (see part 18), the same man in scoot mobile was told he had to wait to see if there was room to allow him in. And that, after he had had to collect his fringe concert ticket at the fourth floor of the Tivoli-Vredenburg building. All that was needed was, for a couple of chairs to be pushed aside to let him in. This finally happened after all the able bodies had been seated, of course.
I do not understand such an attitude. Stupid me of course, to think that these days, in our Western society, handicapped or disabled people are no longer treated as second class citizens.