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Disabled fans eager to return to live events

A new ‘audience snapshot’ by music and event industry charity Attitude is Everything indicates that a majority of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people want to return to live events – as long as accessible safety precautions are in place.

The poll of 289 individuals with a history of attending live events found that respondents went to more than 5,000 indoor and more than 1,200 outdoor live events in 2019 – from gigs and festivals to football matches and book launches.

Following the UK’s relaxation of restrictions on 19 July, 50% of respondents say they would feel comfortable attending an indoor live event and 73% said they would feel comfortable attending an outdoor live event, as long as they are confident that as many accessible measures as possible have been put in place to increase safety.

Almost three-quarters (74%) have additional access requirements in order to attend live events, such as companion tickets, accessible seating, step-free access and accessible toilets.

The results underscore the need for event organisers to ensure that access and Covid-safety measures are at the forefront of reopening plans.

Just over two-thirds (67%) of respondents considered themselves to be at heightened risk if they were to contract Covid-19, with 46% having shielded in 2020, and 27% feeling it necessary to return to shielding now rules have been lifted.

“More than ever before, it’s time to recognise that the disabled community are part of the life-blood of culture in the UK”

Furthermore, 42% didn’t see how a live venue could be a safe environment for them at the time they completed the survey (19 July– 1 August), with 24% feeling that they won’t be able to get to an indoor live event until next year at the earliest.

Eighty-three per cent said they would attend a venue or event that requires the NHS Covid Pass to gain entry, with 67% stating they would actively choose a venue that requires an NHS Covid Pass to gain entry over one that doesn’t.

Almost all (96%) of all respondents said it is important that venues and events engage with disabled people who don’t feel safe to return just yet, with 78% thinking venues and events should maintain online streaming as an option.

“In 2019, disabled people were big consumers of live events. In fact, in the years before the pandemic, the economic spend from disabled people attending live music grew from £3.4 million in 2013 to £9.3 million in 2019, so there was always going to be a huge demand from the disabled community to return to live events,” says Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything.

“Understandably, disabled people have real and deep-seated fears about how safe live events will be after the pandemic. I urge the live events sector to address concerns and make demonstratable efforts to welcome those with access requirements back to their venues and events, and for artists to become actively involved in this welcome.

“Over the past 18 months, disabled people have been loyal in donating to venues and campaigns to support musicians, and bought music, art and books to help creatives to sustain themselves. So more than ever before, it’s time to recognise that the disabled community are part of the life-blood of culture in the UK.”

Following the survey, Attitude is Everything calls on event organisers to check their post-19 July Covid-safety information and practices against its list of reopening measures supported by respondents.

 


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Audience Access Alliance outlines checklist for reopening

Accessibility charity Attitude is Everything has published a ten-point ‘live music checklist’ to help ensure deaf, disabled and neurodivergent fans are made welcome when full-capacity events are allowed to resume in the UK.

Created by the UK’s cross-sector Audience Access Alliance, the initiative is designed to apply to any kind of venue or event and has been widely endorsed throughout the music industry.

With full-scale events in the UK anticipated to resume in coming weeks, Attitude is Everything has urged the country’s music and event industries to adopt its checklist as part of their reopening plans – making sure that the needs of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent (mentally ill or developmentally disabled) fans are considered as included in the reopening strategies for gigs and festivals.

The Audience Access Alliance, launched last year, is a coalition of 13 disability and accessibility organisations and networks that have united to remove barriers for cross-sector audiences across the UK, and is being replicated across the cultural, entertainment and sports sectors.

Designed to apply to any venue or event – from football matches and outdoor festivals to heritage sites, music venues, tourist attractions and theatres – the checklist enshrines the key understandings and policies required for reopening to be fully accessible for deaf and disabled people, many of whom are desperate to start attending shows again.

“The ten-point Accessible Reopening Checklist is designed to help any venue or event get ready to welcome back deaf and disabled people,” says Attitude is Everything founder Suzanne Bull. “It’s free and easy to use, so there’s no reason for promoters, venue managers and event organisers not to embrace and implement this checklist.

“Deaf and disabled people are looking forward to returning to an inclusive world of sports, arts and culture”

“Deaf and disabled people are artists, employees, volunteers and fans, and they’re looking forward to returning to an inclusive world of sports, arts and culture.”

The full Accessible Reopening Checklist runs as follows:

Any venue or event reopening to the public should be able to say “yes” to these things:

1. We agree that every person has the right to assess their own level of risk.
2. People can find facts on our website about accessibility and Covid-19 safety to make informed decisions.
3. If we have tickets on sale, deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people can arrange the access they need.
4. No one is advised against visiting our event or venue.
5. No one will be challenged about their ‘risk status’ at our entrance due to a perceived ‘vulnerability’.
6. Attendees are not expected to bring a doctor’s note if unable to wear a mask.
7. Our Covid-19 safety measures are accessible for everyone.
8. Our street furniture does not obstruct accessible parking or access routes for attendees or pedestrians.
9. Our staff have been trained in disability awareness and understand our access provision and COVID-safety measures.
10. We are committed to listening to deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people and engaging with any new audiences gained online during lockdown.

Jane Beese, head of music for Manchester International Festival and chair of the LIVE Equality, Diversity & Inclusion group, comments: “When live music returns, it’s imperative that all audiences are able to head back into venues as quickly and safely as possible. This checklist is a great reminder of the needs of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.”

“Attitude is Everything continues to provide guidance and awareness raising about access issues that are practical but also acknowledge that not everyone might have this in place,” says Beverley Whitrick, strategic director for Music Venue Trust. “The Accessible Reopening Checklist helps identify areas that might need further work so we will be sharing this within our grassroots music venue community.”

The checklist follows recently published guidance from Attitude is Everything on venue reopening and accessible employment.

Read Suzanne Bull’s recent piece for IQ, which urges the UK industry not to shut out disabled people when it reopens, here:

Live music’s recovery must be inclusive


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Live music’s recovery must be inclusive

Like everyone, I’m feeling hopeful as the live events industry slowly starts to open up as best it can after what we hope is the worst of the pandemic. The impact of this on the industry, further compounded by Brexit, has been immeasurable for those working in it, the artists, and also the fans.

However, the consequences for deaf and disabled people have also been profound and of real concern to me. I’m well-placed to comment on it because I’m a disabled person and founder of Attitude is Everything – a charity set up to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to music and live events.

For 21 years, Attitude is Everything has worked to connect deaf and disabled people with music and event industries to improve access together. Over 200 music venues and festivals have signed up to our Charter of Best Practice, endorsed by government as the industry standard for accessibility. With our support, the live music industry has worked hard to make gigs and festivals inclusive and accessible, but I fear that the current landscape is now looking grim for our community being able to return to live events as we wish.

We need the industry to actively welcome back deaf and disabled people. In a bid to support the industry in this effort, we recently published our Access Guide: Reopening Your Venue.

Being in the group deemed clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) myself, I was angry to be told that I could not attend early pilot events. Thankfully, following interventions by us and other partners, the language has now shifted away from this. Disabled people simply need the facts about accessibility and Covid-safety measures in order to make our own judgments about what we attend. No venue or event should ever make that decision for us.

Online information has never been more important. I know from previous data collected by Attitude is Everything that 60% of disabled people won’t buy a ticket if there isn’t any access information, and subsequently feel that the event “isn’t for them” if they can’t find the information. While I’m delighted to see live music returning to our towns and cities, I’m deeply concerned about deaf and disabled people being forgotten about or simply viewed as ‘vulnerable.’ I know of at least ten events that have gone live selling tickets without having staffed access booking services. Without strong policies in place, there is also now a real risk of disabled people being challenged on entry if staff make assumptions on a person’s vulnerability based on a ‘visible’ disability. This cannot happen.

I’m currently left wondering just what I have achieved in 30+ years of work to improve the cultural offer to disabled people

I’m currently left wondering just what I have achieved in 30+ years of work to improve the cultural offer to disabled people in the UK. However, I am heartened to know that many trade bodies, promoters, festival organisers and venue managers share my concerns about the current levels of exclusion and where this might lead in the future if left unchecked.

There needs to be a collective effort now to reverse recent messages that make certain people in our society feel unwelcome in the drive to return to live music events. I’m finding that disabled people need lots of reassurance and not all disabled people are confident about attending events in the future. We are not talking about a few people: in the UK, over 2.2 million people were told to shield, and 20% of the UK population is classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ to Covid-19 – millions of whom are disabled people. And when I say disabled people, I mean audiences, artists, volunteers and employees.

To bring it home, some of the staff, trustees and volunteers at Attitude is Everything are in the clinically vulnerable groups. Of course, inclusion isn’t just a Covid-19 or reopening issue. Our most recent publication – our Accessible Employment Guide – provides tips on how employers can make workplaces as accessible as possible, far beyond responding to the times we find ourselves in currently.

I’m expecting to return to live music shortly, to work and to enjoy myself! For the first time in my life, I found myself excluded from society when the pandemic hit. Given the choice, I’d go out every single night of the week. I’ve spent over a year locked away in my flat because I was also diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2020, and this, plus my impairment, placed me in the CEV group. For 30 years, I partied my life away and then I was told to stay in. Who in their right mind would want to do that?

Why would I want to stay home when there are so many beautiful bands out there?

 


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Accessible Employment Guide for music industry launches

UK charity Attitude is Everything has published its first Accessible Employment Guide to boost the inclusion of deaf and disabled workers in the commercial music industry.

Research suggests that disabled people are underrepresented at all levels of the British music industry, despite significant increases in disabled audiences at live music events and the fact that 19% of working adults are considered disabled under the UK’s Equality Act 2010. Additionally, a study published by UK Music in April found that one in five disabled people in the industry had faced discrimination at work.

Aimed at businesses of all scales, but particularly small companies without extensive HR resources, the free downloadable publication offers simple and straightforward tips on how to attract talented deaf and disabled workers, with advice on job interviews, accessible meetings, suggested adjustments to office and work environments and more.

Paul Hawkins, Attitude is Everything’s head of volunteering and skills development, says: “Our research shows that deaf and disabled people face barriers applying for jobs in the music industry and that many of those with impairments or health conditions who do work in the industry are concerned about the consequences of identifying themselves as disabled, especially if they are freelance or not in secure employment.

“Over the last year, we’ve found that there is a lot of desire for a more inclusive and diverse industry but that organisations are not always sure of the steps needed to make that happen. Our Accessible Employment Guide is designed to be clear and concise and to give companies the information they need to start making changes today.

“The music industry should lead the way when it comes to ensuring that everyone with an impairment has the opportunity to forge a successful career”

“The events of the last year have turned many conceptions about the workplace on their head and we’re keen to support the music industry to build back for all and for the industry to come back a stronger, more effective and more diverse place where everyone can succeed based on their talents. We hope that this guide will help to make that happen.”

“This fantastic Accessible Employment Guide from Attitude Is Everything outlines how everyone can help improve access for disabled people to work in the music industry,” adds UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin.

“Around 12% of people working in the music business have an impairment or long-term health condition, according to the UK Music Workplace Diversity survey. The music industry should lead the way when it comes to ensuring that everyone with an impairment has the opportunity to forge a successful career in a sector that employs 200,000 people and contributes £5.8 billion to the economy.”

The Accessible Employment Guide is part of Attitude is Everything’s Beyond the Music programme, a three-year initiative funded by the National Lottery Community Fund to improve accessibility to the music and live events industries for deaf and disabled professionals, employees and volunteers.

As part of the programme, the charity has already established the Beyond the Music Network, comprising deaf and disabled people working or seeking to work in the industry, and a Venues Advisory Group that can contribute expertise from the Barbican, the Brighton Centre, Manchester Arena, the SEC, the South Bank Centre and Norwich Arts Centre.

To download the Accessible Employment Guide, click here.

 


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Working guidance for UK festivals updated

Working guidance for UK festival organisers has been updated to provide ‘support and strategic direction’ in the planning of events until the results of the government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) and reviews on social distancing and Covid-Status Certification later this summer.

The new interim briefing builds upon planning considerations published last year on the Purple Guide website, which covered eight key themes and Covid-19 safety measures including medical and welfare arrangements, crowd considerations and specific mitigation measures.


As well as providing direction until the conclusions of the ERP, the briefing note has been developed to:

The document has again been produced in conjunction with leading practitioners from the festival industry including the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF); the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO); the Events Industry Forum (EIF), and Attitude Is Everything.

“[This guidance] is an important step in ensuring that festivals can return safely”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Public Health England (PHE) also provided input on the development of the guidance, which has been co-authored by Emma Parkinson (Coventry University) and Jennifer Mackley (Mackley Projects and Events Ltd).

“This interim guidance briefing provides strategic direction to festival organisers and includes practical mitigation measures to help them continue to plan for this summer and beyond,” says Paul Reed, CEO of AIF.

“I’d like to thank Emma Parkinson and Jennifer Mackley in particular for their work, and colleagues from across the festival sector and within DCMS and PHE for their contributions to this important step in ensuring that festivals can return safely”.

Steve Heap, general secretary of AFO, added: “Having lost almost all of the industry’s 2020 events, festival organisers are very keen to stage whatever is safely possible over the remainder of this year’s season. To do that, clear guidance is needed. The publication of this document, free to all on the Purple Guide website, provides that guidance, written by experienced festival managers with the leadership of AIF.”

Jim Winship, secretary of the EIF, added: “Festivals form an important part of the outdoor event economy and also contribute significantly to social wellbeing. They also take many forms and this guidance should help to enable at least some festivals to go ahead this summer.”

The guidance is live on The Purple Guide site here.

Additionally, the group is hosting a webinar with various contributors outlining the briefing note and taking questions. Details will be announced shortly on the AIF website here.

 


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Attitude is Everything appoints Vick Bain

Attitude is Everything, a charity that connects deaf and disabled people with live music and event industries, has hired Vick Bain to the role of interim director of strategy, effective immediately.

Bain’s role will involve “scoping out new opportunities for partnerships and business development in this new Covid-impacted era for the charity and the music and event industries”.

Alongside her new role, Bain is also an industry consultant; a campaigner of diversity and inclusion in the music industry; a director of the board of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and music tech start-up Delic; and a trustee of the Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA).

“We are delighted to announce that Vick Bain will be working with Attitude is Everything. Her experience and standing in the music industry will be invaluable in these challenging times. We are excited to be working with Vick and to have the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge she brings to the team,” says Ailsa McWilliam, director of operations for Attitude is Everything.

“I will be ensuring that equal access remains at the top of the agenda for all venues and festivals when we re-open”

Vick Bain says: “I have long supported and admired the work of Attitude is Everything, who have done incredible work over the years ensuring people living with disabilities have the same opportunities of access to live music as everyone else.

“This year has been an incredibly challenging one for the entire music industry, and therefore I am deeply honoured to be working with Attitude over the coming months at this crucial time, ensuring that equal access remains at the top of the agenda for all venues and festivals when we move towards re-opening.”

During her 25-year career in the sector, Bain has held positions such as CEO of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (now the Ivors Academy).

She also authored the report, Counting The Music Industry, shining a light on how few women are supported in freelance music careers and curated The F-List directory of female musicians.

For her campaigning work, Bain was enrolled into the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Music Industry Powerlist 2018.

 


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Key deaf and disabled organisations form alliance

Twelve audience accessibility organisations and networks, along with two government sector champions, have come together to form a new informal group, Audience Access Alliance (AAA).

Founding members of the AAA include live music and event industries charity Attitude is Everything, alongside Performance Interpreting, Disability Collaborative Network, Transport for All, VocalEyes and more.

Andrew Miller, appointed by the government as a disability champion for the arts and culture sector, has also joined the AAA.

Today, the AAA published an open letter – marking the 10th anniversary of the Equalities Act – to urge the cultural, sports, heritage and tourism sectors to continue consulting with deaf and disabled audiences – even despite Covid.

The letter notes that despite deaf and disabled people being among the most impacted by Covid, not every disabled person is medically “vulnerable” to the virus and there remains a strong desire among many to participate in inclusive online events and return to in-person activities such as gigs as soon as rules allow.

“We can enable you to consult with deaf and disabled audiences, ensure that the gains we have jointly made are not lost, and help secure the widest possible audiences to support you in the difficult times ahead,” the letter reads.

“We can enable you to consult with deaf and disabled and help secure the widest possible audiences”

Jacob Adams, head of campaigns, Attitude is Everything added: “We are delighted to be joined by like-minded colleagues in forging this unprecedented Audience Access Alliance, extending a message of solidarity to the sectors we are proud to support.

“The need for cross-sector collaboration and conversation has never felt more vital, with unprecedented pressures on the industries we support, and so many parallels regarding the conversations we are having to support accessible reopening.

“Collectively, we champion the importance of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences to the UK economy, and the role they can play in aiding the industries they love in the months and years ahead.”

Andrew Miller, UK government disability champion for arts & culture said, “Disabled people’s continued participation in live events and culture has been severely threatened by this pandemic.

“So I fully endorse the Audience Access Alliance call to the industry to ‘build back better’ and ensure that essential access is not only maintained but enhanced, making the recovery fully inclusive of disabled audiences in all settings“.

Since the Equalities Act came into force, participation by disabled people across the cultural and creative sectors has increased significantly.

In 2019/20, 76% of deaf and disabled people engaged with the arts (vs 77% of non-disabled people), closing the estimated 9% gap in engagement recorded in 2008/09.


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IFF puts finishing touches to biggest programme yet

The Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) has announced two Soapbox Sessions panels for the event taking place on 2 and 3 September.

The first 55-minute session will invite five industry experts to deliver quick-fire presentations on a range of specialist topics including agency roster analysis, socially distanced events and mental health.

Soapbox Sessions: Five in 55 will see ROSTR co-founder and CEO, Mark Williamson, present highlights from an analysis of 650+ agency rosters with ROSTR: The Agency World in Numbers.

Deer Shed director and AIF member Kate Webster will deliver a Soapbox Session on Deer Shed Basecamp, the festival’s socially distanced, sold-out camping weekender with AIF presents: Touching Base.

Tim O’Brien – professor at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester (the site of AIF member festival Bluedot) – will reprise a much-loved talk from a previous AIF Festival Congress with AIF presents: Sounds of Space.

Geoff Dixon will present exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months

In Soapbox Session Covid-19: You Are Here, Dr Mark Salter, consultant for global health at Public Health England, will update delegates on the latest international developments in the fight against Covid-19, including the search for a vaccine, as well as how public health authorities are planning for the months ahead.

Finally, Getting Back to Work: The Fan’s Perspective Vivid Interface will hear Geoff Dixon present exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months.

Another new addition to the conference schedule is The Lost Causes, a series of presentations from specialists covering diversity, accessibility, and mental health and welfare.

Attitude Is Everything‘s Gideon Feldman will deliver Accessibility: Building Back Better, Keychange‘s Francine Gorman will present Equality: Representation Matters and festival booker-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton will educate delegates on Mental Health: Minding the Gap.

Today’s announcement follows the news that CAA board member and London co-head Emma Banks, Paradigm’s head of global music, Marty Diamond, and FKP Scorpio MD Folkert Koopmans are joining the conference.

With just over one week to go until iFF, and with passes increasing in price on 1 September, secure your place and save money by registering here. Tickets are still just £50 inc. ALL fees.

 


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Beyond the Music helps deaf and disabled into industry

Attitude is Everything, the UK’s leading authority on live music accessibility, is launching a three-year programme that aims to boost employment opportunities for deaf and disabled people in the commercial music sector.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Beyond the Music will provide the necessary skills, experience, resources and guidance for deaf and disabled people and also for music businesses, in order to plug the employment gap and create inclusive work environments.

“Attitude is Everything believes it is crucial that deaf and disabled people have full and equal access to any employment opportunities on offer,” says head of volunteering and skills development for Attitude is Everything, Paul Hawkins.

“Beyond The Music will allow us to try and identify why deaf and disabled workers are so underrepresented in the sector, and to take positive action to implement change. The first step towards that goal is the survey we are launching today. We are enormously grateful to the National Lottery for funding this project, and also for support we’ve received from venues and others in the business. More will be needed on the road ahead as we strive for equality and inclusivity.”

“Beyond The Music will allow us to try and identify why deaf and disabled workers are so underrepresented in the sector”

Beyond the Music’s accompanying survey will collect responses from deaf or disabled people, who work or aspire to work in the industry, which will help to shape the programme.

Attitude is Everything has also shared a number of objectives it hopes to achieve during the time period, including building a Beyond the Music Network, creating an Accessible Employment and Volunteering Toolkit and organising Accessible Creative Environments training.

“For a number of years UK Music has been a proud supporter of Attitude is Everything’s great work to improve access to music and the music industry for deaf and disabled people,” says UK Music acting CEO, Tom Kiehl. “Beyond The Music is an exciting new initiative that everyone must now get behind. We look forward to working with Attitude is Everything on this and welcoming them to the UK Music Diversity Taskforce.”

The initiative launched after findings from Arts Council England showed that just 1.8% of staff at music industry organisations consider themselves to be disabled, though 19% of working adults in the UK’s general population are considered disabled under the Equality Act.

Last year, Attitude is Everything revealed that its own research found that 70% of disabled musicians hid details of their impairment for fear of losing opportunities and that two-thirds had compromised their health to perform in inaccessible conditions.

 


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American Express named BST presenting partner

American Express is the new presenting partner for AEG festival British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park, taking over from Barclaycard.

The new partnership, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, sees the festival take the name American Express Presents BST Hyde Park. Cardmembers will have pre-sale access to tickets to all of the BST shows, as well as on-site benefits.

The festival, which last year saw headline performances from Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Robbie Williams and Florence and the Machine, will return in 2020 after securing a new two-year agreement with the Royal Parks for the use of Hyde Park.

“American Express is a valued partner of ours and I’m thrilled that the success of our relationship has expanded to the new signing of our flagship festival,” comments Paul Samuels, executive vice president of AEG Global Partnerships.

“They offer Cardmembers and fans access to the very best events and the addition of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park, will further connect fans to unforgettable live AEG experiences.”

“American Express is a valued partner of ours and I’m thrilled that the success of our relationship has expanded to the new signing of our flagship festival”

Brandy Sanders, vice president of global entertainment partnerships and experiences at American Express adds that the company is “excited to bring American Express Experiences to the heart of London culture”.

The collaboration between AEG and American Express began 15 years ago and has developed into a multi-faceted, global partnership with over 100 venues, sports teams and events across five continents, including LA Live, AEG Presents Global Touring, the O2, Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stockholm Globe Arena, Accor Hotel Arena Paris, All Points East and Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

Launched by AEG in 2013, the BST concert series has featured acts including the Rolling Stone, Paul Simon, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, the Cure, Bon Jovi, Michael Bubler and Roger Waters.

BST last year received a gold status from charity Attitude is Everything for its commitment to improving accessibility and implemented a range of sustainability initiatives for its most eco-friendly edition yet.

 


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