Robyn Steward is a musician, music teacher, author and campaigner who also lives with multiple disabilities, including cerebral palsy. While she has always loved to spend an evening listening or performing live music, one thing used to bother her; the lack of inclusivity at events.
“We should all be more together and celebrate difference.”
Robyn decided to create her own musical project focused on welcoming everyone, regardless of whether they had a disability or not. In 2017, Robyn’s Rocket was born and has since – pardon the pun – ‘taken off’.
A Music Project for Everyone
Before the launch of her project, Robyn attended several live music events in the search for inclusivity but was left feeling disillusioned. As a consequence, Robyn doesn’t label her own project as a disabled gig to avoid able-bodied audiences feeling unwelcome.
Robyn said: “The gigs geared towards people with disabilities put on loads of great bands with disabilities [but] they’re just mainly playing to a disabled audience. I thought, that’s silly – those bands are just as good as bands without disabilities.” With Robyn’s Rocket, the aim is to create gigs inclusive for all.
Accessibility in Everything
The name Robyn’s Rocket comes from the galactic design of the stage. Spaceships and planets are projected as a backdrop to the performances. These brightly coloured designs aren’t just decorative. The colours and shapes are coded to match the names of the performers listed on the timetable. The menus at the bar are printed in a large, clear font with pictures for visually impaired gig-goers. Not just that, but when entering the venue, each attendee is given a special ‘communication badge’ in the shape of a rocket. This coded system uses the position of the rocket to help people signal to others if they’d like to chat, or if they’d rather enjoy the performance without interruption.
As Robyn’s Rocket is only two years old, it’s still a work in progress, but Robyn has high hopes for the initiative. She would love to take it to larger events like Glastonbury one day. However, even if it never gets to that stage, she hopes that the accessible event will help inspire other events to put accessibility at the forefront of their plans.
Robyn concludes: “I’m hoping I can influence how the industry thinks about inclusion. There’s a lot of division between people at the moment. We should all be more together and celebrate difference.”
Follow the link to learn more about Robyn’s Rocket.