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Reading Festival awarded gold for accessibility

Reading Festival has reached gold status on Attitude is Everything's Charter of Best Practice, after increasing deaf and disabled participation by 91% in three years

By Jon Chapple on 06 Oct 2017

Attitude's Paul Hawkins (left) and Festival Republic's Melvin Benn


image © University of Reading

Reading Festival has been awarded gold status by Attitude is Everything, reflecting the UK event’s 12-year commitment to increasing accessibility for deaf and disabled people.

The Festival Republic-run event has worked with Attitude is Everything, which works to improve deaf/disabled people’s access to live music, since 2005, and has since then delivered a huge increase in deaf and disabled festivalgoers: +91% between 2014 and 2017 alone.

Reading reached silver status on the charity’s Charter of Best Practice in 2014, and in 2016 won an Outstanding Attitude Award for its sign-language interpretation service for deaf customers.

“I attended my first Reading Festival in 1987 for a day, when the headliners were the Mission, Status Quo and Alice Cooper,” says Attitude CEO Suzanne Bull MBE. |The highlight of my day was seeing John Peel’s delight at tucking in to a very lush jacket potato and baked beans – as well as seeing all the bands, of course. Back then, hardly any disabled fans attended music festivals and facilities were practically non-existent, which makes today’s award of great personal satisfaction.

“In an industry as diverse as music and festivals, we should be doing everything in our power to make our events as accessible as possible”

“The festival today could not be more welcoming or inclusive. Working in partnership with Attitude is Everything, Melvin Benn and the Festival Republic team have consistently developed the festival to become more accessible and inclusive as the years have gone by. As a result, attendances from deaf and disabled customers, along with their friends and families, have never been higher. The impact is far-reaching, and a perfect embodiment of how live music can change lives when barriers to access are removed.”

Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn adds: “In an industry as diverse as music and festivals, we should be doing everything in our power to make our events as accessible as possible for everyone. As we continue to develop our BSL [British sign language] interpretation service and progress all disabled access avenues across our events, it’s rewarding to see our disabled customer numbers continuing to grow.

“Having worked with Attitude is Everything since 2005, we look forward to continuing this relationship, and are delighted that Reading Festival has been awarded gold status on their Charter of Best Practice.”

In addition to accessibility, Reading/Festival Republic is spearheading a push for greater gender diversity in the live music industry with its new ReBalance initiative.

 


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