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Attitude is Everything partners with AIF, AFO, BAFA

Live events accessibility charity Attitude is Everything has partnered with the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) and the British Arts Festival Association (BAFA) to support their memberships to play their part in making 2023 the most accessible summer yet.

Collectively, these organisations represent more than 200 events that attract more than 1m ticket buyers each year. Members include some of the UK’s best-loved music and arts festivals, such as Boardmasters, Boomtown Fair, End of the Road, Cambridge Folk Festival and the BBC Proms.

Under the banner #FestivalsWithoutBarriers, the associations and festivals have been issued with three calls to action in order to help improve the live event experience for, and increase the attendance of, disabled customers:

Attitude is Everything will support AIF, AFO and BAFA members to implement these actions via their existing Access Starts Online and Accessible Employment Guide publications, alongside the publication of new guidance on inclusive artist booking for festivals and a forthcoming guide to accessible volunteering.

In addition to these resources, the partnership between the four organisations aims to offer members:

“The experiences of disabled people over the 2022 festival season appear to have been quite mixed”

On the announcement of the initiative, Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything, says: “I see this new partnership between Attitude is Everything, AIF, AFO and BAFA as a powerful force in transforming the industry. The experiences of disabled people over the 2022 festival season appear to have been quite mixed, especially when it comes to availability of pre-event information, booking accessible tickets and the level of access onsite. Working together we will drive through the change necessary to improve access for disabled audiences, artists, employees and volunteers. As a disabled person, I’m looking forward to a stress-free festival season in 2023!”

Paul Reed, outgoing CEO of AIF, adds: “We’re very pleased to expand our long-term partnership with Attitude is Everything on this initiative. It has been seven years since we launched Access Starts Online together and this expands the remit to artists, changes in the workplace and vital training opportunities for AIF members. Accessibility at festivals is truly a cross-sector issue and it’s hugely positive to see our friends at AFO and BAFA also get onboard. Let’s work together to ensure that 2023 is the most accessible year for UK festivals yet.”

Steve Heap, general secretary of AFO, comments: “The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) has been working alongside Attitude is Everything for some years now in a drive to improve accessibility both in the audience and on stage for deaf and disabled people. The AFO is now very pleased indeed to be sitting with such a powerful and positive organisation that intends to help guide members and increase access and participation in 2023. With 14.6 million people in the UK being disabled there is a vast potential audience that may not be attending festivals for fear of inaccessibility. Here at AFO we are now discovering more and more disabled performers who could form part of our programme and helping our AFO members make their festivals more accessible. We look forward to supporting and working with Attitude is Everything for some years to come.”

Fiona Goh, director of BAFA, says: “British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA) is delighted to be working alongside its sister organisations, AFO and AIF, in helping to make 2023 the most accessible year yet for UK festivals. Our partnership with Attitude is Everything will help guide our members to increase access and participation by disabled audiences, artists and staff, beginning at the point of sale and running right through festival delivery. There’s never been a more important time to ensure that festivals are accessible to all, and we look forward to seeing a more diverse and inclusive audience in our festivals next year.”


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AiE to boost disabled artists’ careers with Next Stage

In a departure from its usual work improving accessibility for disabled concert- and festivalgoers, UK music charity Attitude is Everything has launched Next Stage, an initiative aimed at boosting the careers of British artists with impairments or long-term health conditions.

Supported by Arts Council England, Next Stage is inspired by existing industry initiatives, such as ReBalance and Keychange, that encourage greater inclusivity and diversity in live music.

Its goal is twofold:

1) To overcome the “knowledge gap” surrounding disabled musicians
“Deaf and disabled artists have made and continue to make a significant contribution to British music,” explains the charity. “But there is an overall lack of information about their work and livelihoods. For instance, what challenges do individuals with impairments face in studios and at venues? How comfortable are artists with sharing their experiences and needs? What development opportunities need to be more inclusive?”

To tackle this “knowledge gap”, as part of Next Stage Attitude is Everything has created a survey seeking views on issues ranging from access requirements at live shows to studio recording and arts funding applications. Submissions are encouraged from artists, musicians, songwriters, DJs and music creators of all backgrounds and across all genres.

The survey findings will be presented and discussed at the Great Escape in May 2019.

“Next Stage is an ambitious departure for Attitude is Everything”

2) To boost talent development and create more accessible music industry
“UK Music, the industry’s umbrella organisation, has identified a number of challenges that might thwart the future success of UK artists and imperil the UK’s ‘talent pipeline’,” says Attitude is Everything. “It is imperative that disabled musicians are involved in this conversation.

“Talented individuals cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks, and it is vital those with physical or mental impairments receive sufficient support to help develop their art and creativity.”

Drawn from the survey findings, Next Stage’s secondary phase will be to develop a comprehensive artist network, connecting the aforementioned individuals with access requirements to showcase, as well as funding opportunities, breaking down barriers to live performance.

The campaign is also being supported by a number deaf and disabled musicians, including Blaine Harrison of the Mystery Jets, rapper Signkid, Rob Maddison of Revenge of Calculon and Kris ‘Winter of ’82’ Halpin.

“I believe we can build a thriving network of talent”

Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of Attitude is Everything, comments: “Next Stage is an ambitious departure for Attitude is Everything. We have spent almost 20 years working for disabled audiences and now, with support from Arts Council England, we want to improve accessibility for disabled artists.

“This process will not be easy. The challenges facing deaf and disabled people are often hidden, and rarely discussed publicly. There are a range of stigmas and sensibilities. So our first goal is to collect information through a comprehensive and wide-reaching survey.

“By paying attention to artists’ voices, I believe we can build a thriving network of talent that will enhance British music and benefit all in the wider music community.”

“This project brought music to life – in my language,” adds Signkid.

To take the Next Stage survey, click here.


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Diabetic woman awarded payout after Lucozade confiscated at concert

In August 2016, Kayla Hanna was queueing up at the Belfast Vital festival (formerly Tennent’s Vital) ready to see Red Hot Chili Peppers when a member of staff from security company Eventsec told her she wasn’t allowed to bring in her bottle of Lucozade.

As a type-1 diabetic, Hanna uses the energy drink to boost her blood sugar levels if they dip too low. After explaining this to security staff and showing them the tattoo on her wrist that also indicated her diabetic status, a security guard continued to refuse her entry with the drink, saying “anyone could have that [tattoo]”. Speaking about the encounter, Hanna says: “I also showed her my insulin pack and the meter used to check my levels.

“She consulted with another guard and they insisted that they had a strict policy and they would not allow me to bring the drink inside.”

After reluctantly giving up the drink, the following concert was filled with anxiety for the student. She says: “I was very anxious and upset throughout the concert. I was afraid something would happen to me and I would not have the Lucozade.”

After the incident, Hanna contacted the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, who brought her case before Belfast County Court, alleging a breach of the Disability Discrimination Act. The findings of the court stated that Eventsec had not made adequate adjustments to their security policy to allow Hanna to bring in the necessary drink.

A security guard continued to refuse her entry with the drink, saying “anyone could have that tattoo”

The news of Hanna’s compensation comes at a time when security policies at concerts and festivals are becoming tighter and tighter. Around the world, venue owners and operators are responding to heightened terror levels and threats. The concern for many, however, is that these measures will impact disabled people like Kayla Hanna negatively.

Mary Kitson, senior legal officer at the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, has highlighted the need for consideration of the Disability Discrimination Act in the face of increased measures. She says: “These are the kind of circumstances in which the reasonable adjustment provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act can be most beneficial.

“They are in the act to ensure that people with disabilities are not denied access to services by reason of general policies which can, in themselves, be otherwise justifiable and necessary.”

An Eventsec spokesperson says it was welcomed the judge’s decision, in which they acknowledged the company had “considered what reasonable adjustments needed to be put in place in order to meet the needs of those patrons with diabetes”. “The facts surrounding this case were an isolated incident,” they add.


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