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‘Gig in the Park – a free, accessible live music event that’s open to all’

Gig Buddies Auckland is a new initiative that aims to combat social isolation for disabled people by matching them with volunteers who share the same interests and passions. Once paired, the ‘buddies’ go out together to gigs, movies, museums, sporting events, or whatever they like!

“Physical and financial barriers, social anxiety, and stigma can make it much more difficult for disabled people to go to live events, particularly gigs,” says Piri Rutherford, Manager of Gig Buddies Auckland. “Gig Buddies provides opportunities for social connection through live events, and enables people to build genuine, lasting relationships with likeminded people.”

The programme is delivered in partnership with disability support provider Spectrum Care, and with funding from philanthropic parent Spectrum Foundation.

The team are also working with other organisations to create inclusive events that are open to all. Their first venture was ‘Gig in the Park’, a live music event co-hosted with Auckland Council’s Music in Parks. The gig was a resounding success, with hundreds of people turning up to enjoy the live music, market stalls, and food trucks.

“It was a fun event with great live music, and I met a lot of new people thanks to Gig Buddies!” says Newaye, one of the programme’s first participants.

Gig Buddies events have a big focus on accessibility, going beyond just ticking the box of having a few wheelchair-accessible seats. The goal is to make mainstream events inclusive, rather than having ‘disability only’ events, or separate areas. “Inclusion is more than just sharing the same space,” says Piri, “It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and has the opportunity to enjoy what’s on offer.”

In addition to looking at aspects of physical accessibility, like car parks, pathways and toilets, the team take into consideration other barriers that disabled people might face, and do what they can to make the events more enjoyable for everyone, like having NZSL interpreters, dedicated quiet spaces, and a ‘chill-out zone’ for those with sensory needs.

“We’re really excited to be teaming up with Gig Buddies to make our events more accessible,” says Gavin Downie from Music in Parks. “It’s a great opportunity to better understand the needs of disabled people who attend our events. Where possible, we’re trying to incorporate the approaches and learnings that the Gig Buddies team identify into our other events, so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy local live music.”

Applications for Gig Buddies participants and volunteers are now open! To find out more, visit Gig Buddies Auckland. For more information on other disability support services, visit Spectrum Care.

Gig Buddies will be rounding off the summer with another ‘Gig in the Park’, this time in Victoria Park in Auckland’s CBD from 1-5pm on Saturday 30 March. It’s a free event that’s open to all and suitable for those with physical and/or sensory needs.

Check out Music in Parks or Gig Buddies Auckland on Facebook for further details.

There will be an opportunity to interview Gig Buddies participants, buddies and representatives from Spectrum Care at this event. For further details, please contact piri.rutherford@spectrumcare.org.nz

 

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