Creating An Accessible Music Landscape

Groove Tunes Logo is illuminated with stars around a vinyl record. Bold text in pink and orange lists the artists featured on the lineup, event sponsors appear above.

I’m tucked away in the Corner Hotel’s ‘Legends Lounge’, sitting on richly coloured emerald seats. Surrounding me are some of Australia’s most iconic artists, strikingly photographed in their element.

A mere 20 minutes ago I was down in the Front Bar, a space equally sprinkled with history on the walls. Lara Whalley, Corner Hotel’s venue manager, walks through the side door as my eyes are darting from poster to poster, showcasing these legendary performers. The Corner Hotel truly has history. I can imagine it easy to slip into comfortability working in a venue like this. Yet, Lara is focused on the future, sharing with me the Corner’s plans for development.

The Corner is one the few venues in Australia I’ve seen dedicate a specific section of their website to Accessibility. It’s a step in that future direction. Well-lit photographs of the venue outline the different spaces and where there may be possible navigation challenges. Topics include accessible parking, public transport recommendations, pick up zones, wheelchair access, guide dogs & service dogs, attending shows and other more specific topics. The bottom of the page further outlines The Corner’s willingness to learn and develop.

Lara is a refreshing example of a leader, personable, kind and welcoming. She’s in-tune too. We need to platform people who are focused on developing these spaces that are safe and welcoming, especially when it means the inclusion and involvement of more people and communities. Lara had mentioned to me that she learnt a lot from the mentorship of Tibi AccessDina Bassile and comments on the importance of talking to people with lived experience, a thread that rings true throughout all of my conversations.

Tonight, the groovy event ‘Groove Tunes’ penned as “the most anticipated accessible gig on the calendar” takes place. It is especially special. 5 artists on one bill. KYE headlining. Stacked along with Cool Out Sun, Voli K, R.EM.EDY & Bette Foord.

Even 30 minutes before doors open I can feel the energy brewing in the space. Volunteers in their bright orange vests are walking around, ready to lend a hand. Rainbow colours illuminate the empty stage. Artists and friends pack out the few seats in the space. The bar, being stocked, a regular routine occurrence. The Corner is for sure no stranger to that energy, that pre-show excitement.

The show kicks off and once the crowd are settled in, the space lights up with the free dancing of the audience. It feels like a family affair, a backyard barbeque, a gathering of friends, it’s intimate and it’s personal.

Each artist brings a different energy to the space. Bouncing between numbers that are straight up 90s dance inspired to numbers that have more of a soulful root to numbers that make you sit back, reflect, reminisce. It’s engaging having so many different voices and perspectives present themselves vulnerably like this on stage.

In the audio piece below you’ll here from people with lived experience and those who lead the way in changing how we interact with and create accessible spaces. These conversations of passion for change energise me to dive more deeply into how we create these spaces, and Groove Tunes was the inspiring start.

Interviews included with N’fa for Cool Out Sun (Artist), VOLI K (Artist), Bette Foord (Artist), Dina Bassile (Tibi Access, Groove Tunes), Lara Whalley (Corner Hotel), Brittany Long (Simply Photographz), Veronica Greene (The Hoist), Elise Parkin (EL MGMT).