PUBLIC STATEMENT ON THE ABSENCE OF DISABILITY ACCESS TO ECHO ECHO STUDIOS
Many people will be aware that we have had serious problems in relation to disability access following the extensive renovation of our premises at Waterloo House undertaken by locally based firms which were appointed through a tendering process in 2012.
Our lift, which provides access to the various studios, office and other work-spaces has been out of use since October 2016 when an independent report concluded that it was unsafe. Due to the issue with the lift the renovation project, which began in November 2012, has not yet been formally completed.
Following an extensive period without proper disability access during which we have increasingly faced comments and questions about this issue we now feel obliged to make a public statement to inform our users, participants, partner organisations and the general public of the situation.
Throughout more than 25 years of Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company’s existence, the Company has always had regard for inclusion and access. When the company moved into its new home in Magazine Street we were delighted that the care and attention we had devoted to accessibility during the planning and design stage of the renovation project was rewarded with a Silver Standard Certificate for Accessibility from Change a Little Change a Lot.
The lack of proper disability access to our studios since October 2016 has had a detrimental effect on our work, on relations with partner organisations and on individuals with disabilities. We have found this situation both frustrating and embarrassing.
We have made great efforts over the past two years to resolve the situation to no avail. In December 2017 we commissioned a second independent report which was provided to all parties involved in the renovation project. As with the first report, the lift inspection was undertaken by a respected industry professional. This report affirmed the conclusions of the first report and elaborated on the shortcomings of the design and installation of the lift equipment. These shortcomings have been present from the outset of the renovation and it is only by luck that no one has been injured as the lift has been deemed to be at risk of “sudden and catastrophic failure.”
Despite our very best efforts, the lift remains in a state of disrepair with the contractors involved failing to take responsibility. In view of this, we have no other option than to initiate legal proceedings in an effort to resolve the issue as soon as possible and ensure safe and appropriate disability access to our premises.
In the meantime, we would like to thank our colleagues, participants and audience members for their understanding in this matter over the past two years. We want to assure everyone that we have been taking this matter very seriously and continue to do so.
Echo Echo Board
Echo Echo Staff
Echo Echo Ensemble Members
15th October 2018