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Student Blog: Has Theatre Become More Accessible After the Pandemic?

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In this blog, I will discuss both the physical and monetary accessibility of Broadway pre-and post-pandemic.

Student Blog: Has Theatre Become More Accessible After the Pandemic? Accessibility is defined as "the quality of being able to be reached or entered." When theatres first shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, people began to discuss if Broadway was accessible and what could change to make it more accessible in the future, after re-opening. In this article, I will discuss both the physical and monetary accessibility of Broadway pre-and post-pandemic.

Physically, Broadway shows can be very inaccessible because of the stairs and long waiting times before the theatre opens. Most theatres, due to being older buildings, do not have elevators to bring people who cannot walk up the stairs to different levels of the theatre. Personally, the only theatre I have been in that has elevators is New York City Center. While all theatres do have some sort of wheelchair-accessible seats, they are always in the orchestra and always expensive.

By making the only wheelchair-accessible seats in the theatre expensive, it forces fewer disabled people to be able to attend shows. These people might be able to attend a Broadway show at the price of mezzanine tickets, but because of their disability, they are not able to sit in the mezzanine and are no longer able to afford the tickets. Also, lines outside of the theatre are typically very long and there is nowhere available to sit. Personally, when I had issues with standing for a long period of time because of my disability, I would not have been able to wait in these lines. This means I would have to rush to the theatre right before the curtain which would have been stressful and I would not have had time to do things like, use the bathroom or buy merchandise.

Now, post-pandemic, there are some changes being made to the physical accessibility of theatres. The U.S. Attorney's office recently sued Jujamcyn Theatres to improve accessibility in five of their theatres. Jujamcyn Theatres has agreed to provide 44 wheelchair-accessible seating locations; provide 54 aisle transfer seating locations; and eliminate barriers to accessibility in restrooms, concession counters, waiting areas, and box offices. It is not known when these changes will take place, but we can hope they will be happening soon. Both Shubert and Nederlander Theatres were sued by the U.S. Attorney to make their theatres more accessible. Certain theatres do have closed captioning available or pre-recorded audio descriptions of the show. Hopefully, in the future, we will see more advancements made to theatres to allow them to be accessible for everyone.

Broadway has always been expensive. In 1965, Broadway tickets could cost around $11.00 which, with inflation, would cost around $94 today. $94 today would be an adequate price for mezzanine tickets on Broadway if you're lucky. Orchestra tickets can cost hundreds of dollars, sometimes reaching into the thousands. Most people cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars on Broadway tickets. This makes Broadway become an exclusive club because the only ones who can afford to see all the shows they want are extremely rich. There are discount codes available online for most shows, but even then the tickets are still expensive. Personally, I have been able to afford tickets to Broadway shows by rushing the box office the day of the show. Some people do not have the ability to rush shows because of physical or time constraints. Rush tickets normally cost $20-60, depending on the show or time of the show. People were looking for changes to be made to the price of Broadway shows so that they are more accessible once we are able to go back to theatres.

I cannot think of any initiatives made to actively lower the price of Broadway tickets. Due to demand, we can assume that prices will increase during the first few months. I think many people are looking towards non-profit organizations or theatres themselves to lower the prices of Broadway tickets. We want to make tickets more accessible for everyone else and we want everyone to be able to enjoy theatre. There are economical issues with every part of the theatre industry, but we should all be able to enjoy a Broadway show without breaking the bank.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Paige Rosko