Update – Guy Davis Surprise Ban on Wheelchair Story

By Stephen Pate – American Blues man Guy Davis is playing in Charlottetown, PEI this weekend.

Mr. Davis has refused to change his show to an accessible venue for people in wheelchairs or other disabilities, barring anyone in a wheelchair from getting in.

Update – Guy Davis do the right thing and apologize to the disability community of PEI for ignoring our human rights to make a buck.  As the Bob Dylan song says “money comes and goes” but integrity can’t be bought. See the postscript below for more.

Mr Davis will be playing at the venue in an upper room called “The Pourhouse”.

Davis is the son of famed African American Civil Rights Activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

 

I bought tickets to the Charlottetown show and published a story about the tour.  Guy Davis On Tour From Boston To Canada and Back

Facebook comment on inaccessible Guy Davis show

Facebook comment on inaccessible Guy Davis show“I’d love to go see him action,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “Too bad the Pourhouse isn’t accessible.” He has used a wheelchair for years.

Facebook comment on Guy Davis venue

Facebook comment on Guy Davis venue

Oops my bad, I forgot about wheelchair access.

There are two entrances to “The Pourhouse’, one on the corner and it has a ramp.

The second door double as the exit when there is a show upstairs. There is no button door opener. There are also two steps. That would not be accessible.

In “The Pourhouse” lobby the first thing you’ll see this  is ‘Watch your step’ sign. You can’t get over that step with a wheelchair.

Beyond that to the right are the steep stairs up to The Pourhouse. There’s no elevator or lift. The Hostess told me the upstairs  is not accessible.  I believe her.

If they have a Guy Davis concert up there, people in wheelchairs won’t be able to get in or leave in a hurry if there’s an emergency. That could be dangerous.

Facebook fans encourage the promoter to provide wheelchair access.

Facebook fans encourage the promoter to give wheelchair access.

 

Thom Wolke, Manager of Guy Davis Bluesman

Thom Wolke, Manager of Guy Davis bluesmen

We spoke to, Thom Wolke,  management for Guy Davis.  At first he told us that they would look into it. If there was another venue that was close by they would move the show.

By Tuesday at noon, Thom Wolkechanged his mind. He  said they wouldn’t move it and it was inconvenient for Mr Davis to go somewhere else. Inconvenience is not an excuse for not proving inaccessible public places.

Davis’ management actually told me that there was no other venue. So, I called two places. One of the best venues in Charlottetown,  a $30 million site, was available at a very reasonable price.

I offered that to them but they said that I would have to pay for it. This is so rich I’ll repeat it.

Do have a sponsor lined up to take care of these extra expenses you mention and the actual expenses to pay people to notify all the ticket buyers, plus the lost revenue to the Pour House, and the lost income to the employees there ?

Let me know if you have all that lined up, and if that is the case, I’ll insist we make this change that you requested at the 11th hour. (Thom Wolke, manager Guy Davis  email Tue 4/04/17 3:24 PM)

People with disabilities, according to Guy Davis, should pay for reasonable accommodations at public events. These would include, quoting:

  1. extra expenses you mention ($350 room rental)
  2. the actual expenses to pay people to notify all the ticket buyers
  3. the lost revenue to the Pour House
  4. the lost income to the employees there,

Of this is completely against the law but Mr. Wolke said,

Let me know if you have all that lined up, and if that is the case, I’ll insist we make this change that you requested at the 11th hour. (Thom Wolke)

I thought that as a person in a wheelchair and as a reporter, it wasn’t my job to do that.

. "I have a dream" speech at the March on Washington. Ossie was an emcee before Dr. King spoke. Ruby also addressed the crowd. Then Martin made history.

“I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington. Ossie was an emcee before Dr. King spoke. Ruby also addressed the crowd. Then Martin made history.

I’m kinda disappointed because Mr Davis’ family had the reputation of being big advocates of civil rights and it’s just disappointing. I was assured by Mr. Wolke that Davis knew all about this and agreed with Wolke.

And I won’t be able to go the concert because there’s no way I can get up those stairs.

I am sure Mr. Davis and his management would not attempt to deny people with disabilities their rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which states public places must be accessible.

I can see a hard-nosed manager trying to save money for his client. I don’t understand how someone of conscience, a “nice guy” would do this.

Postscript

From reports, the Charlottetown show sold out. I’m happy for Guy Davis.

Now he needs to issue a formal apology to the disability community, and to me for the abuse his employees heaped on me.

I respect Guy Davis’ right and need to make a living as a musician. Touring is not an easy  life. That does not excuse abusing the rights of people with disabilities, some of the weakest people in our community.  

Guy Davis’ US and Canadian tour management showed an unusual disdain for human rights by not organizing more thoroughly in advance and then blaming me for bringing it to their attention.