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ABBA Voyage to hold first ‘calmer concert’

ABBA Voyage in London will hold its first calmer concert, catering to those with sensory processing needs.

The smash-hit virtual concert residency has teamed up with A Relaxed Company, which advises productions and venues on accessibility for neurodiverse and autistic audiences, for the concert on 25 April.

Provisions will be made across ABBA Arena to ensure that those with sensory processing needs can enjoy the concert, including extra trained staff on hand, reduced arena capacity and chill-out zones around the venue.

A sensory setlist outlining what to expect from every song during the concert and a visual story explaining what to expect from the venue are available for any customers who would benefit from them. Sound and lighting at the concert will remain the same.

“ABBA Voyage is a magical experience, and we are so glad that the team is holding the calmer concert so that everyone can experience it,” says Katherine Usher and Chris Pike, co-founders of A Relaxed Company.

“We’ve been working with the whole team to ensure that the concert is ready to welcome everyone, whether you’re neurodivergent, sensory sensitive, or just looking for a calmer alternative.”

“ABBA Voyage is a magical experience, and we are so glad that the team is holding the calmer concert so that everyone can experience it”

ABBA Voyage debuted at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in May 2022 to universal acclaim.

Held at the purpose-built 3,000-cap ‘ABBA Arena’ under the direction of producers Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson and director Baillie Walsh, the show grossed more than $2 million (€1.87m) a week, it was reported last year.

One of the most expensive productions in music history, the £140m (€164m) show has brought the Swedish group – Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus (co-founder of lead investor Pophouse Entertainment), Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad – back to the stage in avatar form, supported by a 10-piece live band.

The four members of ABBA spent five weeks being filmed by 160 cameras for motion capture as they performed the 22 songs that make up the show’s 95-minute runtime. Other key team members include co-executive producer Johan Renck, choreographer Wayne McGregor and AV tech specialist Solotech UK, led by director of special projects Ian “Woody” Woodall.

ABBA Arena is designed to fit 1,650 seats and space for a standing audience of 1,350. According to Bloomberg, the residency has already generated upwards of €140m in sales after selling over 1.5 million tickets, achieving a 99% occupancy rate with an average ticket price of around £85 (€100).

Discussions are reportedly taking place to expand ABBA Voyage to cities including Las Vegas, New York, Singapore and Sydney.

 


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Disabled fans eager to return to live events

A new ‘audience snapshot’ by music and event industry charity Attitude is Everything indicates that a majority of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people want to return to live events – as long as accessible safety precautions are in place.

The poll of 289 individuals with a history of attending live events found that respondents went to more than 5,000 indoor and more than 1,200 outdoor live events in 2019 – from gigs and festivals to football matches and book launches.

Following the UK’s relaxation of restrictions on 19 July, 50% of respondents say they would feel comfortable attending an indoor live event and 73% said they would feel comfortable attending an outdoor live event, as long as they are confident that as many accessible measures as possible have been put in place to increase safety.

Almost three-quarters (74%) have additional access requirements in order to attend live events, such as companion tickets, accessible seating, step-free access and accessible toilets.

The results underscore the need for event organisers to ensure that access and Covid-safety measures are at the forefront of reopening plans.

Just over two-thirds (67%) of respondents considered themselves to be at heightened risk if they were to contract Covid-19, with 46% having shielded in 2020, and 27% feeling it necessary to return to shielding now rules have been lifted.

“More than ever before, it’s time to recognise that the disabled community are part of the life-blood of culture in the UK”

Furthermore, 42% didn’t see how a live venue could be a safe environment for them at the time they completed the survey (19 July– 1 August), with 24% feeling that they won’t be able to get to an indoor live event until next year at the earliest.

Eighty-three per cent said they would attend a venue or event that requires the NHS Covid Pass to gain entry, with 67% stating they would actively choose a venue that requires an NHS Covid Pass to gain entry over one that doesn’t.

Almost all (96%) of all respondents said it is important that venues and events engage with disabled people who don’t feel safe to return just yet, with 78% thinking venues and events should maintain online streaming as an option.

“In 2019, disabled people were big consumers of live events. In fact, in the years before the pandemic, the economic spend from disabled people attending live music grew from £3.4 million in 2013 to £9.3 million in 2019, so there was always going to be a huge demand from the disabled community to return to live events,” says Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything.

“Understandably, disabled people have real and deep-seated fears about how safe live events will be after the pandemic. I urge the live events sector to address concerns and make demonstratable efforts to welcome those with access requirements back to their venues and events, and for artists to become actively involved in this welcome.

“Over the past 18 months, disabled people have been loyal in donating to venues and campaigns to support musicians, and bought music, art and books to help creatives to sustain themselves. So more than ever before, it’s time to recognise that the disabled community are part of the life-blood of culture in the UK.”

Following the survey, Attitude is Everything calls on event organisers to check their post-19 July Covid-safety information and practices against its list of reopening measures supported by respondents.

 


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