Bures Music Festival and People with Disabilities
At Bures Music Festival we are all well aware of the need to cater for the widest slice of society as possible. Our very existence is proof that we are all committed to improving the quality of life for the people with whom we are lucky enough to share this particular part of East Anglia. Since we started in 1997 we have raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds for charities and other good causes in the area.
We do that by running a music festival that takes place in a field in Suffolk and that presents its challenges in catering for people with disabilities. We believe that the nature of a field-based event concentrates those challenges in three principle areas: access/parking, camping and on-site comfort. We think that people with mobility disabilities are the people most affected by our festival environment, so this is how we try to minimise those impacts.
Access to the site for people attending on a day-by-day basis is via a hard surface easily navigated by wheelchairs, or by people using assisted walking equipment. Once through the access gate, the festival site is a fairly level recreation ground that, while being harder to move around than a tarmac surface, is, in normal summer conditions, fairly easy to negotiate.
Parking facilities for people with disabilities are available at two different sites.
- If you are able to walk a short distance, the closest part of the general parking field, close to a mown grass footpath, is reserved for people with disabilities.
- If you are a user of a wheelchair or other assisted walking aid then, by prior arrangement, we have the permission of the Parish councils to allow you to park on the recreation ground close to one of entrances and we will meet you at the approach road and escort you on to the site.
For several years now we have had an arrangement in place with the local farmer to use the farm field adjacent to the festival site for camping (in addition to the car parking facilities). Whilst this may be suitable for people without disabilities, we recognise that people with disabilities may feel uncomfortable in having to camp in less than optimal conditions for their capabilities.
We have therefore approached the parish councils, who have agreed that we may use part of the recreation ground to provide a more comfortable camping area for people unable to use the general camping field. The space is very limited so we regret that only people with ‘blue badges’ will have access to that part of the ground, which means that parties may be camping in two different parts of the site, to ensure that the space that could be used by people with disabilities is not taken up by people without disabilities but who happen to be in a party with people with disabilities. We hope you understand the reasons behind this decision.
In common with most other festivals we do not provide seats or chairs but you are welcome to bring in your own and sit in them where ever you decide to sit for the day outside of the marquee areas – within reason, there are some areas where chairs are not allowed to enable us to satisfy our obligations under fire regulations. If you have inadvertently come along and have left your chair at home, please contact one of the stewards and we will endeavour to find you one from the backstage area. It will be for your personal use and we ask that when you have finished with it you hand it back to a steward.
We regret that we do not allow the use of chairs within the marquees at the busiest times of day. This is for both your own safety and that of others, as the presence of people sitting in chairs in the midst a crowd of standing and dancing people presents too much of a risk of personal injury to too many people. It would also, in our view be an uncomfortable position to spend any length of time and would offer a significantly impeded view of the stage. Far better to remain outside the marquee in relative safety and with a better view of the performers.
We hope that you find these guidelines useful and understand the reasoning behind the decisions made. But more than that, we hope you come along and enjoy the festival for what it is; 5 days of music in a Suffolk village, some of which is in a field, but all of which is run by volunteers raising money for charity.