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Ensuring Event Access in the Theater and Convention Industries

Theaters, convention centers, and performing arts venues across the globe rely on Ascension wheelchair lifts to provide ADA-compliant event access for both front and back-of-house applications. Whether it’s getting actors and personnel up on the stage, or providing events access, Ascension is often the ideal choice for stage accessibility.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits that Ascension brings to event-driven venues, as well as answer a couple questions that we often receive about our products.

Benefits to owning an Ascension wheelchair lift

Non-Destructive Installation and Floor-Level Entry

Ascension's Virtuoso wheelchair lift used to access a stage, the lift is portable and requires very little set up time.
Ascension lifts provide easy event access without installation pits

Ascension wheelchair lifts provide floor-level entry and exit without the need for installation pits. This means that there is no need to dig a hole in the building’s floor during installation just to enable floor-level access into and out of the lift. This feature is especially attractive to historic properties that must provide accessibility without altering or damaging the location. Moreover, no digging means reduced installation times.

Towerless Construction

The Ascension Virtuoso is used event access to a stage and isn't distracting to the performance.
Tower-less design helps to reduce visual impact

Ascension wheelchair lifts are designed without “machine towers.” Instead, Ascension lifts house their lifting machinery inside of the lift walls. This unique design feature minimizes each lift’s overall footprint, which means that Ascension wheelchair lifts take up less physical space when compared to competing lifts and ramps. Furthermore, the absence of a machine tower helps to reduce an Ascension lift’s visual impact on its surrounding area, which, in turn, provides an unencumbered viewing experience.

Facility Integration

Performing arts centers are perfect locations for Ascension's wheelchair lift in that they are discreet, quiet, and provide event access without distracting from the performances.
Low-profile designs ensure seamless integration into the surrounding facility’s unique look

Unlike many other wheelchair lifts, Ascension lifts are designed with more than only event access and safety in mind; every Ascension wheelchair lift model places a special emphasis on aesthetic value. This is to ensure that each Ascension wheelchair lift seamlessly integrates into its facility, rather than stands out as an ungainly obstruction or distraction. Ascension’s goal is to enhance a visitor’s experience by subtly accentuating the facility’s architecture and decor.

Hydraulic-Drive Systems

Ascension lifts on the production floor
Ascension lifts feature hydraulic drive systems over more common screw-drive systems

All Ascension wheelchair lifts use hydraulic-drive systems over the more-common, less-expensive screw-drive systems due to the superior durability and performance of hydraulics. Hydraulic-drive systems aren’t as susceptible to wear, require little lubrication, and have fewer breakable parts than screw-drive systems. Furthermore, hydraulic-drive systems are quieter than screw-drive systems, as well as require only minimal regular maintenance to keep in top working condition.

Quick Installation Times

One person can easily move the portable Ascension lifts.
Ascension portable lifts can simply be rolled into place

Portable Ascension Protégé and Virtuoso lifts arrive fully-assembled and ready to use. They are designed such that they can be wheeled into place and setup by one person in as little as 10-minutes.*

Permanent Ascension Protégé and Virtuoso lifts similarly arrive fully-assembled, requiring only that they be uncrated, placed, bolted down, and hardwired.*

Ascension’s Clarity 16E is capable of multistory rise, and can be installed by two professional technicians in one to two days.*

*Installation times vary depending on wheelchair lift model and installation location

Design Specification Review

Ascension provides free architectural plan reviews to any architects specifying an Ascension lift in their design plans.
Ascension provides free design reviews to ensure you get the right lift for you

Ascension design engineers perform a design review for every order to ensure the correct lift model is being specified in the given facility’s plans.

At Ascension, we believe this product review is paramount in providing the best service possible to our customers. Ascension’s design review is a free service provided to our customers, and it ensures that both the facility and the end-user get exactly what they need to provide ADA-compliant event access.


Two Common Questions Customers Ask About Ascension Wheelchair Lifts

  1. Question: Why pay for an Ascension lift – or any lift – when wheelchair ramps are cheaper?

    • Answer: While it’s true that a wheelchair lift – and an Ascension lift, especially – can represent a significant upfront cost, it’s important to consider the following three substantial aspects of a wheelchair ramp before going through with an installation:
    1. Initial Construction Costs
      • Building and installing a ramp is deceptively expensive. For example, a wooden wheelchair ramp servicing a 4-ft. stage in a community theater would require 169 sq. ft. of build space and 219 total sq. ft. of operating space (go to Access-board.gov for a breakdown of wheelchair ramp build requirements). Material costs alone for such a ramp would be in excess of $1,400, while contractor costs – frequently averaging $100 per sq. ft. or more – add another $16,900, for an approximate total cost of $18,300.
    2. Long-Term Costs
      • In addition to the initial costs, a wheelchair ramp such as the one previously described, can cause a permanent revenue drain. The example ramp would most likely be permanently installed. At a total operating footage of 219 sq. ft., this wheelchair ramp would take up as many as 28 theater seats, at the industry standard of 8 sq. ft. per seat. Based on a 10-show season, each show with 10 performances, and at the 2016-2017 average Broadway seat price of $109, those 28 seats represent a revenue loss of $305,200 per season. However, even if the seats were priced drastically lower, such as at a $20 university price, for example, the per-season revenue loss is still a significant $56,000. Even at the reduced price, an Ascension lift would pay for itself halfway through the season.*
      • *Final product prices are dependent upon product model as well as product features
    3. Visibility
      • Returning to our example ramp, 219 sq. ft. is not insignificant, and, as such, would no doubt visually intrude, or even dominate, the space in which it was installed. Unfortunately, because the ramp is large and bulky, it draws attention to itself and those who are using it, increasing a ramp user’s anxiety and distracting everyone else. However, an Ascension wheelchair lift, contrary to wheelchair ramps and many competing lifts, is specifically designed to provide unobtrusive and non-distracting ADA-compliant event access.
  2. Question: Why are Ascension lifts so expensive? Your competitors are cheaper?

    • Answer: While it’s usually true that many of our competitors’ lift models are less expensive, it is equally true that the financial compromise of purchasing a cheap lift generally equates to a substantial compromise in product-quality, as well. For example:

    Competitors often use a less-expensive screw-drive system:

    Compared to Ascension’s hydraulic-drive systems, screw-drive systems are less reliable, noisier, and require more consistent maintenance, which, in turn, may drive up long-term costs.


    Competitor lift designs often rely on a “machine tower” to house lifting machinery:

    Ascension’s “towerless” lift designs minimize the overall size of Ascension lifts, thereby reducing necessary installation and operating space, as well as reducing visual intrusion. Conversely, “machine towers” increase a lift’s overall size, increase installation times, as well as draw attention to the lift and away from the event. Finally, “machine towers” can be difficult to see around.


    Competitors’ lifts often do not provide floor-level access without installation pits:

    Installation pits are a common necessity for most of our competitor’s lifts, as a method for providing floor-level access. Unfortunately, the installation-pit method requires digging a hole in the facility’s floor, both damaging the facility and increasing installation times. Conversely, Ascension lifts are designed to provide floor-level access to any event without requiring site destruction or any additional installation procedures.


    Competitors often provide only a standard 2-year warranty:

    At Ascension, we believe that a warranty is a direct reflection of a company’s longevity and its product quality. That’s why every Ascension wheelchair lift comes standard with a 10-year drivetrain, 4-year parts, and 90-day labor warranty. No other competing manufacturer can compare.


    Finally, other lifts just look bad…

    Competing wheelchair lift manufacturers design their products specifically to provide vertical accessibility at the lowest price possible – usually meeting only the bare-minimum ADA code requirements. At Ascension, we believe our clientele want and deserve more. That’s why Ascension wheelchair lifts blend superior functionality with a refined aesthetic to create a combination that is rare in the accessibility industry, but of paramount importance to our many customers in the theater, staging, and event-driven communities.


Discover What Ascension Can Do For You

Click on the links below for information about a specific Ascension wheelchair lift, or contact a company representative at (520) 881-3993. You can also send us an email by clicking the link below. Ascension’s business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time (MST). Ascension is an American manufacturer and reseller located in Tucson, Arizona.