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Portsmouth theatre condemned by disability charities over carer tickets

The Kings Theatre in Portsmouth has been slated by disability charities after bringing in a £10 ($13/€12) ticket charge for carer tickets that were previously free.

The 1,400-capacity venue said it made the decision to add the ticket charge after reviewing its access policy in October.

The Stage reports that in a statement provided by the venue, a spokesman said it looked into how other similar-sized venues across the UK charge for companion tickets.

It added: “We decided that rather than a complex changing price structure to instead have one nominal fee of £10 per companion ticket which is the same price regardless of the show.”

However, the move has been criticised by disability equality charity Scope, and VocalEyes, an arts organisation championing experiences for blind and partially sighted people.

Scope’s campaigns manager Jess Leigh, said: “Without the vital support a personal assistant provides for things like using the toilet, getting comfortable and eating and drinking, activities such as going to the theatre would be impossible.

“Life already costs more for disabled people – on average £583 a month. Initiatives such as free carer tickets help to level the playing field and ensure everyone can access theatre.”

She added: “We hope the theatre will rethink this policy change, and that venues will improve their performance to become more inclusive for disabled people.”

VocalEyes chief executive Matthew Cock pointed out that the Equality Act (2010) requires businesses to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people accessing their venues and services, adding that it is not permissible to charge people for that reasonable adjustment.

He said: “A theatre should therefore have a concession scheme that either lets an essential companion accompany a disabled person free-of-charge, or both tickets should be discounted by at least 50% of the price of a ‘standard’ ticket.

“I would strongly advise them to reconsider their charge. There is no justification with regard to the venue’s costs of providing the service.”

Image: N Chadwick