From Iceland — Reykjavík's Music Venues: Still Not That Good For People With Disabilities

Reykjavík’s Music Venues: Still Not That Good For People With Disabilities

Published November 5, 2015

Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
RX Beckett

Iceland Airwaves is here, and the festival offers plenty of things to celebrate about Reykjavík’s music scene, but it also offers an opportunity to reflect on what can be improved. After playing their third show of the night at Gamla Bíó, Börn‘s drummer Fannar Örn Karlsson, who has disabilities, voiced concerns of how inaccessible the venue was. We called him up, and this is what he had to say about the matter.

“Getting to the stage at Gamla Bíó is really hard. You have to get down to the basement to get onto the stage. Getting down to the basement involves a flight of steps, and I can do that pretty easily; from there there are steps with a railing that say ‘stage’, and they look pretty good, but for some reason they’re not in use any more. Instead, you have to go through an equipment room, where you’ve got to climb a really tight wooden ladder. Most people seemed to have a hard time with it, but it was all but impossible for me. If it hadn’t been for two great members of staff that helped me, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten onto the stage.”

When asked how common this problem was with venues downtown, Fannar said Gamla Bíó wasn’t the only troublemaker. “It’s difficult getting onto the stage at many places. Difficult stairs are really common with older buildings downtown. Dillon has a very steep staircase. Gaukurinn also has some stairs which are easy enough for me to scale, but it’s impossible if you use a wheelchair. To their credit, the people behind Gaukurinn have expressed an interest in building an elevator, but I know it’s not always possible—things like that are fucking expensive, and it’s not their fault the buildings were built like that. It’s hard to get the right permissions, and the money. It very often gets stuck with the city.”

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