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Melbourne Festival Makes Sure Attendees Of All Abilities Can Enjoy The Music

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Melbourne Festival Makes Sure Attendees Of All Abilities Can Enjoy The Music

If you've been to a music festival before, you'll know that if the weather has been bad, it can be a nightmare to get from one stage to another. You might have left your home looking Instagram-worthy, but when you return you're a muddy mess.

Well, spare a thought for people who are differently abled and how much more difficult is it for them at these events.

Dylan Alcott with festival goers. Credit: Alex Drewniak
Dylan Alcott with festival goers. Credit: Alex Drewniak

Don't get me wrong, organisers try their best to accommodate, but none have gone as far as Melbourne's Ability Festival. It had its inaugural show last weekend.

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The event was started by Paralympic basketball star and tennis world champion Dylan Alcott. He's been to a festival or two in his time and a picture of him wheelchair surfing in the crowd went viral. But he says that was one of the only ways to see the acts on stage.

Speaking to ABC, he said: "One of the times I first felt included was at a music festival. No-one cares about your race, your gender, your disability - everyone has a good time.

"But sometimes the access isn't available to feel included, that's why we created this baby.

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"We've got pathways everywhere for wheelchairs to get around...we've got quiet areas for people with sensory disabilities.

"We've got Auslan interpreters signing the whole main stage - we've got rappers who rap so fast, so I've got no idea how they're going to do it."

The event attracted some big-name Aussie acts, including Flight Facilities, Client Liaison and Owl Eyes. Not only did it raise a very important issue of ensuring people of all abilities enjoy themselves at festivals, but 100 percent of the proceeds will be used to help young disabled Aussies.

A whopping AUD$200,000 (£109,444) was raised over the course of the day.

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Credit: Alex Drewniak
Credit: Alex Drewniak

The Dylan Alcott Foundation wrote on social media: "We cannot thank you guys enough for supporting the Dylan Alcott Foundation and coming to the first ever Ability Fest. Words cannot describe our gratitude for the generosity of the artists, staff, volunteers, Auslan Stage Left, the organisations for donating their time and products to the event, we couldn't have done this without you."

Dylan is hoping his event will inspire other festival organisers to think twice about how much disabled access they're providing.

He told Triple J: "Everyone talks about how inclusion and accessibility is hard and costs money. But it wasn't hard, and you change the lives of a lot of people. Hopefully people follow our lead and spend more time and effort to be more inclusive."

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Good on you, Dylan.

Featured Image Credit: Alex Drewniak

Topics: Awesome, Smirnoff Free to Be, Melbourne, Inspirational, Disability, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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