When Karren Kelly started attending music festivals with her son, it didn’t take her long to realise most festivals are not designed for those with a disability.
Karren’s son, James, who lives with autism and an intellectual disability, found mainstream music festivals too overwhelming.
“There can be a sensory overload from the music bouncing off all the walls and the feeling of nowhere to remove yourself is very challenging” she said.
Instead of giving up and going home, Karren decided to channel her passion as a mum and an advocate for social change to create a new music experience for all to enjoy.
“I think because I am a very passionate mother and I have worked in the disability sector for many years, I felt the need to do something, and I just knew we needed an accessible music festival in Adelaide” she said.
With a great team behind her, Karren created Amplifii Music Festival – an all-inclusive music event.
“We have created this festival to be a safe and encouraging event for people of all ages and abilities. The difference to a mainstream festival will be the staff trained in disability care, as well lots of chill-out zones and safe spaces for people to relax”.
“People can go and chillout but still hear the music and there will be silent discos so people can get away from the crowd and have a dance.
“Imagine being able to arrive at an event knowing all the access planning has been considered and you are free to be yourself. That is our goal,” she said.
Amplifii Festival will have many of the features of mainstream festivals, like food trucks and top music acts such as Adelaide’s DJ JoSH and the band, Fizzy Pop.
Karren said the community response has been inspiring.
“I think we have about 35 local businesses in Adelaide that have jumped on board. As well as the performers being so generous with their time and our sponsors including Developing Links and Complete Disability Services SA have been amazing and so supportive.
“I could not have done this if it wasn’t for the people getting behind it, the committee and everyone involved. I just know it is going to be a success and even bigger next year,” said Karren.
Mayor Glenn Docherty said Council was pleased to support Amplifii, the first festival of its kind held in the City of Playford.
Playford’s Stretton Centre, a flagship business support and growth hub, supported Karren in designing a business plan for Amplifii back in its early days.
And when the pandemic caused an unexpected roadblock, Karren was able to dive back into organising using the same plan once it was safe to host again.
“Karren’s application for Amplifii Festival also received $5000 from Council’s community grants to help bring it to life,” said Mayor Docherty.
“Amplifii gives everyone the chance to attend a music festival – especially those who find attending these types of events too difficult due to disability.
“Thankfully, this festival takes light and sound sensitivity into consideration in the form of chill out zones, so everyone can feel comfortable and escape the noise when they need to – and all while enjoying the fun.”
Other Amplifii festival acts include DJ Tommy LE, Filip With An F, Some Brown DJ and a silent disco with vibrating vest so you can sense sound in your skin.
The event will be held this Saturday at Playford Tennis Centre – 50 Spruance Road, Elizabeth East. Gates open at 4.30pm.