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SWG3 Glasgow Disabled Access & Wheelchair Accessibility Review

SWG3 (Studio Warehouse Glasgow) is a multi-disciplinary arts space for all sorts of events including club nights, gigs, exhibitions, a studio and gallery space for artists, poets and performers and much more. The open-concept rooms have cement walls that serve as a blank canvas with exposed pillars and ceilings.

I’m always curious about what wheelchair access will be like at venues I’ve never visited. So without further ado, here is my SWG3 Glasgow disabled access and wheelchair accessibility review based on my experience of attending the Maggie Rogers gig.

Booking Accessible Tickets

Unfortunately, booking tickets for this show, which at the time was still Saint Luke’s wasn’t the most straightforward but with a little determination, we got there in the end.

It started with an email from TicketWeb with details about the presale but as I’ve never been to Saint Luke’s before I wasn’t sure what it was like to book accessible tickets. I contacted the venue to ask how to book an accessible ticket and whether they offer a free carer ticket, but they advised me to contact the promoter.

I emailed the promotor (DF concerts) who advised that any accessible customer who requires a carer to any of their shows will be able to do so by calling Ticketmaster on their accessible phone line. I call Ticketmaster but they couldn’t help me either. They told me I needed a code for the presale, even though there was no mention of a code or how to get one. I contact DF again and while waiting for a response I saw that Ticketweb had general tickets available, but I was hesitant to go ahead with booking as no one was able to tell me if I could get a companion ticket or not.

The woman at DF was great and advised someone from the Accessible Team at Ticketmaster would be giving me a call. The day came and went with no phone calls or emails from Ticketmaster. I emailed DF again who was apologetic and I explained to them the Ticketmaster website and the person I spoke to from Ticketmaster contradict what I’ve been told by the venue, Saint Luke’s.

The venue claimed to not deal with making a decision regarding access requirements and carer tickets, but the Ticketmaster website states they do. See the photo from the website below. DF then advised that tickets were being reserved for me and someone would give me a call to rearrange payment etc.

Ticketmaster website showing how to book accessible tickets for Saint Luke's in Glasgow.Finally, someone called and my booking was confirmed. I then emailed Saint Luke’s to let them know I would be attending with my carer and to reserve seats/wheelchair space for the gig, but they never replied.

A few days later I received an email from Ticketmaster advising that the show had been upgraded to SWG3 to cope with demand.

Although it’s been open for several years, SWG3 is a fairly new venue in terms of gigs and only started hosting gigs in the last 6 months.

We emailed SWG3 to let them know I would be attending and to confirm that there would be a viewing platform and to reserve spaces on the platform. They got back to us and confirmed everything. A few days before the show we decided to double check and make sure there would definitely be a viewing platform. We received an email back reassuring us so we were good to go!

Disabled Parking at SWG3 Glasgow

There is disabled parking in the venue’s yard, but we didn’t park in it because it was locked when we arrived and there was no staff standing at the entrance or any signs to indicate exactly where to park. We parked up on the side of the road beside other cars and headed towards the main door.

Arriving at SWG3 Glasgow

As we approached the venue a female steward began telling me to go this way and that way around the barriers and puddles. It was a bit of a faff and there was no one else queuing. It was also pouring rain. I was getting absolutely soaked so all I wanted was to get inside out of the rain. Going in and around barriers was delaying things more.

Tour bus outside the SWG3 venue in Glasgow.

We gave our names and showed our ticket. Another steward then insisted on stamping our hands before entering. I’m soaked at this point, my hands are soaked, and my legs are soaked. Everything is soaked. Allan asks if we can go inside the empty doorway out of the rain to dry my hands and save us from getting more soaked from the rain. She rudely replies “We are all getting soaked pal”. I explain to the steward my hand is too wet for the stamp, but he insists it needs to be stamped “its policy”.

He then says something to me that I couldn’t make out, but I think it was something to do with me not lifting my hand up. I tell him I can’t lift my hand up so to just go ahead and stamp it even though it’s soaking wet, but he turns and walks away without stamping my hand.

We are both annoyed by this point as the steward escorts us into the venue. Once inside she apologises, as she sees how soaked I am and insists on stamping Allan’s hand again. Although they kept insisting to stamp mine outside in the pouring rain, they ended up not even stamping my hand at all. Not even when I asked once inside.

Wheelchair Accessibility at SWG3 Glasgow

Entering SWG3 was easy and step-free. As we arrived late (Maggie Rogers was already on stage) it wasn’t crowded. We stopped at the accessible toilet to grab some tissues to try and dry me off. Another member of staff offered to help and got me some paper towels, which was very kind.

The accessible toilet was a good size with space for wheelchair transfers on the left side, grab bars and an emergency pull cord. Although I didn’t use the toilet, I noticed the floor was fairly wet so it had possibly already been used quite a bit and there was no Radar lock.

The accessible toilet at SWG3.

TV Studio & Viewing Platform

The same steward who had us waiting in the rain escorted us into the TV Studio where Maggie was performing and through the crowd. It was really busy but she managed to get us through the crowd and right to the front onto the viewing platform…wrong!

Just as we feared there was no viewing platform. It was just a barriered off area on the left-hand side of the room. It was more like a cage. We felt and looked like caged animals. There were around eight people in this small area who were already sitting. I instantly knew it was going to be bad. I had no view at all! The people sitting were squashed up and leaning against the barrier and bending their necks trying to see the stage.

The steward goes to leave but Allan asks her where the viewing platform is and tells her I can’t see a thing. She says “The viewing platform is next door because there is a gig with more wheelchairs so they are using it and you came in late so….”

It doesn’t matter if we were late. We can arrive whenever we want just like non-disabled people can arrive at whatever time suits them. They don’t get told off or penalised. We also can’t predict traffic and road diversions.

Traffic was a nightmare, I was sitting with damp clothes from being soaked, Maggie was already on stage (the venue hadn’t given stage times so we didn’t know it was an early show), and then we were sat in a caged area with no viewing platform, despite being told there would be one.

Emma sitting inside the barrier of the viewing area for wheelchair users.

Honestly, I wanted to leave. I would have left if I didn’t have to squeeze through the crowd again. Instead, we asked a steward at the front of the stage to get the manager. While waiting, a few people in the “viewing area” volunteered to move to let me get my wheelchair in closer. It was very kind of them and I told them not to as they were there first, but they insisted because they were able to stand. I was the only wheelchair user. Unfortunately, I still couldn’t see.

Ten minutes or so later another two people got up and moved their seats completely and let me get as close as possible to the barrier to try and get a better view. It was a little better but still no way suitable or acceptable. I had to lean across and twist my neck just to get a glimpse of Maggie onstage. I couldn’t do it for long because it was straining my neck and causing pain. All I kept thinking was “Why am I having to do this?”

Emma sitting inside the barrier of the viewing area for wheelchair users.

By this point, we are frustrated, disheartened and quite frankly feel like second class citizens and above all else, we feel utterly ripped off! We have paid the same price as everyone else yet we are being treated completely differently! I can’t help but feel a little cheated as I watch everyone have a great time. I resort to watching Maggie by looking at people’s phones because that’s the only way I get to properly see her.

The show ends and the lights go up. People begin to leave the room while the rest sing and dance to Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody”. It’s clear to see they are in high spirits and had a great night. Again, I can’t help but feel cheated. We wait in the viewing area cage for the manager to meet us.

Emma sitting inside the barrier of the viewing area for wheelchair users.

Feedback to the Manager

The operations manager arrives and apologies. We explain that the steward told us there is only one viewing platform and that it’s being used next door, which is not acceptable. He tells us that is 100% not the case. There is a viewing platform for each room and it’s brought out when required. He then explains that there has been a communication breakdown so they didn’t know I was coming in my wheelchair. The manager also says that the barrier (cage) area wasn’t set up properly because it should be angled to allow a better stage view rather than straight which meant the crowd were blocking us.

He was really nice and genuinely disappointed that we had a bad experience. He said it wasn’t acceptable and if he can do anything in terms of future shows, to get in touch with him. It was good to talk to him, explain our concerns and hear what accessibility should be like at SWG3. Clearly, he wants disabled customers to have a great time at SWG3 and feel valued.

Although he said the reason for not putting the viewing platform out was because they didn’t know I was coming is a bit confusing as my name was on the access list at the door. So they must have known I was attending?

Maggie Rogers at SWG3 Glasgow

I’ve mentioned Maggie Rogers a few times in my ‘Things I’ve Loved’ series last year. She often featured as my favourite artist or song for that particular month. If you haven’t heard of Maggie before, she is an American musician and super talented singer-songwriter as well as a producer. She is from Maryland and first got her musical break after playing her song “Alaska” to Pharrell Williams during a master class at New York University. Since then things have taken off for her and she has toured with Mumford & Sons and Haim.

I cannot comment on the stage set-up and performance because I couldn’t actually see any of it. However, her folk-pop vocals were absolutely amazing. Words I would use to describe her are enchanting, charming, pure and blooming well awesome.

The following photos of Maggie Rogers were taken by Allan from his view of the stage.

Maggie Rogers on stage in the TV Studio at SWG3 Glasgow.
Maggie Rogers on stage in the TV Studio at SWG3 Glasgow.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we paid money for a show we didn’t get to enjoy. It’s not a nice feeling to look around the room and almost resent the crowd because they are enjoying themselves and have no idea what it’s like to be a wheelchair user stuck in a cage. We should have enjoyed the gig but instead, we felt ripped off and unvalued. Aside from there being no viewing platform, there is a definite need for more disability awareness and training for the stewards. Simple changes in the service they provide and their attitudes will make a big difference.

Update: You can read my experience of attending another gig at SWG3 in The Galvanizers venue.

Have you been to SWG3 Glasgow before? What was your experience like?

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My Top 5 Best And Most Memorable Gigs Of 2017
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Featured image courtesy SWG3

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Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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5 Responses

  1. Just awful.

    I went to see MGMT at the same room and there was a viewing platform that was to the side and reasonable.

    In surprised to learn that the platform is portable. I’m more surprised to learn anyone at the venue though this was remotely acceptable.

    1. Hi Declan

      Did you get a photo of the viewing platform by any chance? How did you find it, did you get a good view of the stage on the platform?

      1. I had a decent view. It was on the same side as you were but further back against the side wall. The railings, etc semmed old – which isn’t a problem but it surprises me that it’s a portable arrangement, especially as all concerts have disabled punters. It all seems odd and horribly negligent.

  2. Hi thanks for yr review it’s a huge help. Im desperate not to miss my fav rapper (again) and going to just buy standing tickets as well as call/email the place. Im luckily that although I need my wheels for distance or for a place to park myself after 10 mins standing. So bearing that in mind Im praying I wont be stuck in the middle of a crowd or stuck in a cage. Ironically enough NF, who Im going to try and see uses a cage on his set, hmm wishfill thinking to have that view. Thanks again x viv

    1. Hi Viv, thank you so much for your comment. How did you get on getting tickets? Did you manage to get them okay? Were the venue okay when you contacted them regarding your access requirements? Fingers crossed it all goes well 🙂 Haha maybe you could put in a special request to enjoy the set from inside the cage on stage:-)

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