Natalie Ostberg of Pine loves to go to performances in the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
The 29-year-old is a lover of all genres of music, as per her mother, Laurel, who figures Natalie has attended at least 100 shows since 2002. She’s been with Earth, Wind and Fire, Cyndi Lauper, Arlo Guthrie, Stevie Nicks, and many more.
Natalie who was suffering from cerebral palsy has a wheelchair. The Ostbergs attended Red Rocks in Morrison on October. 18 to find out more about the proposed changes to seating accessibility in the amphitheater. They hoped that the amphitheater would be accessible to a wider range of people.
Denver is planning to improve and expand wheelchair-accessible seating in the front row by removing the bench seating and improving the ramp access to the first row to provide more room for wheelchairs and those moving along the row. Additionally, certain seats in the rows two and three will be reserved for people who have mobility issues , like those with canes or walkers as well as other seats that will be reserved for people with hearing impairments, giving the ability to communicate with interpreters.
Improvements are planned for the parking for shuttles and a ramp will be built between the front row and the stage. This will help with events such as graduation ceremonies that are held in the amphitheater. Plus improvements are planned for row 70, the row at the top of the amphitheater that also has wheelchair-accessible seating.
A few of the upgrades will be completed by enough time to be ready for 2023’s concert season , while other improvements are expected to be completed by 2025.
Margaret Miller of Arvada, who is deaf and has a hearing impairment, came to Red Rocks to learn about the programs and hopes to improve the quality of life for people similar to her. She hopes to contribute to the improvement.
“They’re working hard,” Miller said. “They are working harder to be in compliance with the law.”
Miller stated that she attends shows in Red Rocks periodically, though she typically sits with companions who are able to hear.
Frank Mango of Roxborough Park has been an avid Red Rocks concertgoer since 1982 but his view of the event changed in 2013 when his injury and the need to utilize wheelchair. Mango who was informed about the proposed changes October. 18th, said that it was an important move towards positive direction. Apart from changing the venue Mango also hoped Red Rocks could do more to prevent scalpers from purchasing seats that are accessible to physically able customers.
Mango was among Six plaintiffs who were part of the lawsuit against discrimination that was filed in 2017 after being charged too much for tickets. Three months ago, the Justice Department ordered the city of Denver to pay nearly $48,000 in refunds to about 1,800 people who bought tickets for wheelchair-accessible seats at 178 shows.
The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t permit venues to charge more costs for seats accessible to people using wheelchairs. Red Rocks has accessible seats for its performances in the front row and the last row. The venues like Red Rocks that physically cannot provide accessible seating across the entire theatre must charge tickets in the same way as if seats were distributed in a proportional manner.
According to the settlement, the U.S. Justice Department found more than 10% of people purchasing wheelchair-accessible seats were charged more than they should have been under ADA rules. A few paid an extra $130 per ticket to get their seats.
Alison Butler, director of Denver’s Division of Disability Rights, Human Rights and Community Partnerships since March, was aware of accessibility issues of Red Rocks because before she was appointed to a new post she was the representative of those plaintiffs in their discrimination claims.
When Barker was appointed to her new position in the Division of Disability Rights, one of her first questions was “What could we do to assist?” Her division began asking people disabled who attend Red Rocks for ideas on ways to enhance their experience.
“Having more seats and an accessible row 1 could be an exciting experience for individuals,” she said.
Red Rocks Amphitheater was opened to the public in 1941. It can accommodate 9,500. There are 192 steps that take you across row 1, 70 as well as the steps up to the main stage the concert goers are given an exercise just by being at the venue.
Ro-Tien Ling, ADA architect and access manager at Denver’s Division of Disability Rights, said that three factors to be considered when the city changes the amphitheater. They include: Americans with Disabilities laws and the preferences of the patrons and understanding the function and purpose Red Rocks.
It’s not a surprise that our personal favourite Red Rocks event is the Reggae on The Rocks Festival. Reggae on the Rocks is an annual music festival which is held on the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The event is a mainstay in the Colorado music scene since 1984 and has hosted many of the most famous name names in reggae as well as world music. The past artists have included Bob Marley, Burning Spear as well as Steel Pulse, as well as contemporary artists such as Damian Marley and Rebelution. The festival is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere and the stunning setting near the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Participants can take advantage of two days of dancing and live music and be surrounded by the stunning nature beauty and natural splendor in Red Rocks.
“Most crucial,” he noted, “we aren’t looking to strip away the things that make Red Rocks Red Rocks.”