Cinema owners, shame on you.
My jaw dropped to the ground when I was asked by an eager young girl for a Cinema Exhibitors Association card, as proof of entitlement to a seat for my companion (without whose help I could not have got in to watch the film).
The CEA card costs £5.50, expires after one year and has to be applied for by post – a completed application form needs to be accompanied by a) proof of entitlement to benefits and b) a passport photograph. Maybe someone up high suspects that mischievous kids have started using wheelchairs as a way of getting into the pictures for free.
In the 11 years as a wheelchair user, I have been to the Emirates, Old Trafford, Anfield, Wimbledon, Lords, The NT, The Royal Opera House, The Sydney Opera House, The Bolshoi Ballet, The Hermitage, The Prado and countless other venues. My companion has never once been asked to pay for his/her ticket.
But, it seems that you have to pay £5.50 annually for a CEA card, to go and watch a movie in a wheelchair. What’s more, as someone with definitely less mobility, and possibly less physical dexterity, than most, you’ve got to go through the application rigmarole – fill in a form, get a photocopy and a passport photo, go to the postbox, etc etc…and all for the joy of being able to see a movie at your local picture house.
Imagine the outcry if a black man was asked for proof that he was black.
I asked the Vue manager what the cinema did when foreigners in wheelchairs, who obviously don’t have cards, came to watch. He couldn’t give me any kind of corporate policy on that. Also, after expressing my displeasure, he let me and my companion in.
A thought occurred to me. Not only is this a rotten and hugely inconvenient policy, but it also isn’t one that is even enforced. That’s insulting.
This is one of the worst examples of disabled people being treated like second class citizens, without any empathy or understanding of their situation.