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Two thirds would choose venues with Covid certification on entry over those taking a laissez-faire approach. 

Hatcham Social perform at Club Attitude

Sara Amroussi-Gilissen

Two-thirds of disabled audiences would visit venues that require an NHS Covid Pass to enter over those that don't.

The finding from a new survey by disability-led charity Attitude is Everything (AiE) illustrates fear among Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences to attend indoor events as restrictions are relaxed - more than a quarter (27%) have begun shielding again.

The 289 people polled attended an astonishing 5,000 indoor events in 2019. Disabled people spent £9.3m on live music alone that year, AiE Founder Suzanne Bull said.


Disabled people have been loyal supporters of the arts over the past 18 months, sustaining creative careers through donations and patronage of online events, Bull added.

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

However, she said that, "understandably, disabled people have real and deep-seated fears about how safe live events will be after the pandemic".

Two thirds of respondents said they would be at higher risk if they contracted Covid-19.

42% did not see how venues could be safe for them and 24% wouldn't attend indoor events until next year at the earliest.

23% were considering attending an outdoor event for the first time this year because of safety concerns.

There is a clear division, however: half of respondents intend to go to live events this year, and said they would feel comfortable provided accessibility and Covid safety measures were in place.

Three-quarters need accommodations such as step-free access, companion tickets and accessible seating and toilets.

AiE Head of Campaigns Jacob Adams said the survey emphasised a need to "pay close attention" to basic accessibility to support disabled audiences' participation in the arts.

Bull added: "There was always going to be a huge demand from the disabled community to return to live events."

Covid Pass

Despite strong support for the Covid Pass among the survey participants, Adams said AiE is not calling for mandatory use of the app: "It's a complicated picture currently so our position is a pragmatic one."

Administration and policing issues mean the NHS certification is unlikely to be used universally. It does not allow medical exemptions to be noted, for example, leaving event organisers to come up with their own non-discriminatory entry rules.

Some are mandating the app's use - Live Nation and AEG Presents have both announced this - but there is "more reticence" among smaller venues, Adams noted.

An AiE guide to reopening venues suggests giving staff a clear policy on when to turn people away.

Some people cannot wear masks due to respiratory or anxious conditions and door staff should not demand proof of exemption to attend an event.

"The key rule here is that every step should be taken to ensure that door staff do not make discriminatory decisions regarding who can enter."

Keep on streaming

78% of survey respondents said streaming should be maintained  as live events resume.

"The maintenance of online streaming is absolutely crucial, as long as it complements on-the-ground access rather than replaces it," Adams said.

He said organisations must consider new, creative ways to engage audiences who don't intend to return to live events soon.

AiE's guide says online engagement sessions and venue open days can help communicate safety measures to reassure disabled audiences.

Venues such as The Exchange in Bristol are pursuing this, with an online discussion and open afternoon for audiences to reacquaint themselves.

Keeping some socially distanced events will aid an inclusive reopening, the guide adds.