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Survey reveals “hidden barriers” for disabled artists

Music charity Attitude is Everything reveals that access and safety remain big obstacles for deaf and disabled artists wishing to rehearse, record or perform live

By Anna Grace on 09 May 2019

Disabled artists survey, Attitude is Everything

Attitude is Everything CEO, Suzanne Bull

image © AIE

A nationwide survey conducted by music charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) has indicated that artists with access requirements and long-term health conditions are facing multiple career-damaging obstacles.

The findings of the AIE survey will be presented in full today (9 May) at the Great Escape, with a panel discussion featuring Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets), Ruth Patterson (Holy Moly & The Crackers), DJ Laura Jones, Roxanne de Bastion (Featured Artists Coalition) and Rich Legate from the band Childcare.

The survey was launched as part of the charity’s Next Stage initiative, which aims to gain a greater understanding of the challenges facing disabled artists in the UK, supported by the Arts Council England.

The research reveals that 70% of deaf or disabled artists surveyed have withheld details of their condition or impairment due to worries it will cause problems and impact relationships with promoters, venues or festivals.

79 of the 96 respondents have played live shows. Of these, half are disabled by physical barriers at most gigs and one in five have had to cancel a show due to physical access issues.

Two-thirds of respondents performing live reported they had compromised their health or wellbeing in order to perform.

Access remains a concern for many disabled artists, with 50% of respondents encountering access-related barriers when seeking to rehearse in a studio or space outside of their home. For 38%, the nearest rehearsal space is inaccessible.

“These findings provide a snapshot of the challenges faced by a great number of artists and music makers”

AIE states that discussion around artists with access requirements has been limited, with many respondents reporting that access requirements were ignored or not taken seriously.

Almost all respondents (96%) think that the industry could become more inclusive for artists with access requirements, if they were granted more visibility and opportunities to speak out about their experiences.

“Consider the difficulties any musician or artist has in promoting themselves and their work,” says one survey respondent. “Now add access requirements and think of the determination it takes to deal with the same obstacles.”

Launched in December 2018, Next Stage is Inspired by existing industry-wide initiatives such as ReBalance and Keychange that encourage gender inclusivity and diversity in music.

“These findings provide a snapshot of the challenges faced by a great number of artists and music makers,” says AIE chief executive, Suzanne Bull, MBE.

“They will make uncomfortable reading for many in the UK music industry, but our respondents clearly raise some fundamental issues with rehearsing, recording and performing that need to be addressed. Disability cannot be treated as a taboo.”

In the future, Next Stage will focus on five specific areas. In addition to artists, these will include work with funders, rehearsal and recording spaces, venues and festivals and promoters.

The panel takes place at 11 a.m., Jury’s Inn Waterfront, Conference Room 2.


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