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Tunbridge Wells Forum has become the first venue to be accredited through Attitude is Everything’s new charter.

Photo of gig at Tunbridge Wells Forum
A performance at Tunbridge Wells Forum

A best practice charter encouraging small music venues to attract disabled audiences has been launched by charity Attitude is Everything (AIE).

The Grassroots Venue Charter of Best Practice, which has been produced in partnership with the Music Venue Trust, aims to accredit hundreds of small venues for the first time.

Explaining the importance of the initiative, Beverley Whitrick, Music Venue Trust’s Strategic Director, said: “It creates a process which supports grassroots music venues to understand and start to address the need for access.

“The charter contains specific, achievable actions which these venues can take and be recognised for. We hope many more venues will be able to take positive steps in this area, supported by the bespoke approach Attitude is Everything is able to bring to this process.”

New approach

Specifically targeted at small and independent music venues in the UK, the charter aims to implement “low or zero-cost access solutions” that will “help boost the growing audience of Deaf and disabled music fans”.

It builds on AIE’s existing Charter of Best Practice, but differs by permitting venues without a disabled toilet to sign up. The new charter acknowledges the “tough economic conditions” most small venues operate under, and accepts smaller venues can welcome customers by liaising with local businesses to agree use of their toilet facilities.

To achieve a bronze-level award, venues must have:

  • Access information posted on their website
  • Free tickets for personal assistants
  • Basic access information in tech specs for promoters and bands.

Music Venue Trust member Tunbridge Wells Forum has become the first grassroots venue to be accredited under the scheme, having updated its online access information and begun the process of adding an accessible toilet and adjusting external access routes.

The development of the charter was supported through Attitude is Everything’s ‘Breaking the Sound Barriers’ programme, which is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

“Many artists cut their teeth and hone their performances in local venues all across the UK, and to be able to open these venues up to disabled artists and audiences is really exciting,” said Suzanne Bull, CEO of Attitude is Everything.

“‘Breaking the Sound Barriers’ means that we can fulfil a long-held desire to work closely in partnership with Music Venues Trust, an organisation that we hold in great esteem because of their work to support small music venues to thrive in the UK.”