BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Adrian Edwards, a 57-year-old disabled man and advocate for the disabled community, is calling on Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) to provide reduced pricing for disabled men and women following his success in persuading other arts institutions across the city to do so.
Edwards—who suffers from ataxia, a neurological condition that doesn’t allow his brain to function with his body—said that disabled persons should be granted the same privileges as seniors and children, arguing that they too pay taxes, live on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and should be able to afford their community’s cultural institutions.
Earlier this year, Edwards said that he was negotiating with MOMI Director Carl Goodman to add federally disabled discounted tickets to the museum’s pricing. However, he said that Goodman had denied his request and wasn’t convinced that Edwards had been able to get other cultural institutions to lower their prices for the disabled.
Previously, Edwards said that he had been able to lower the annual membership fee for the disabled for Broadway and off-Broadway shows to $35, annual membership fees at the IFC Cinemas to $55, and annual membership fees at Symphony Space to $50; and secure discounted tickets at the box office with ID at the Williamsburg Cinema and Kew Gardens Cinemas and free admission to the Jewish Museum. Edwards said that he was also able to persuade the Met Museum to allow disabled visitors to pay as much as they could afford.
Edwards said that after he pays his bills using money from the monthly check that he receives from the SSI, he is left with approximately $23 to spare each month.
“Twenty-three dollars isn’t enough money for me to eat, but just because I can get out of the house, get on the bus and go to the museum or to a movie or a play, it allows me to feel like I am living,” said Edwards.
He added that when disabled people participate in such activities, it provides a sense of normalcy. Without an ability to take part in social interaction, Edwards said that he would feel lonely and isolated.
Following his attempt to persuade MOMI to change its prices for the disabled, Edwards contacted the Queens Tribune.
A spokeswoman for the museum said that the institution was developing a plan that would include some component of accommodation for the disabled.
“With the city’s leadership, we are developing a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan, of which service to and representation of people with disabilities is an important component,” the spokeswoman said.
But Edwards said he believed that MOMI had, so far, not accommodated the disabled community.
Edwards said that he reached out to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who is the chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations. However, he said that Van Bramer did not address his concerns.
According to a spokeswoman from Van Bramer’s office, the Councilman is in support of the discounted pricing for disabled persons and has submitted a piece of legislation on behalf of his proposal.
There will be an updated version in next week’s print paper, where Van Bramer addresses the actions he is taking in regards to this issue.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.