A 12-month project to make venues safer and more inclusive raises bigger questions about how disabled artists will return to performing live post-pandemic.
A new initiative will help live music promoters remove barriers faced by Deaf and disabled artists as they prepare to return to live performance.
Disability-led charity Attitude is Everything is working with gig promoters to ensure Independent Venue Week (IVW), which took place online this year, is as accessible as possible in 2022.
Through a 12-month collaboration with the event, Attiude is Everything hopes to equip promoters with the knowledge and skills to ensure artists no longer face access issues.
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A 2019 survey by the group found 70% of artists, bands and solo acts withheld details of a health condition or impairment over concerns it could “cause problems and impact a relationship with a promoter, venue or festival”.
Two in three artists said they had to compromise their health or wellbeing to perform live. One in five cancelled a show due to physical access issues.
A separate recent survey by Signed Culture, which supports and promotes access to BSL (British Sign Language) in the arts, confirms there is much work to be done to make performance venues fully accessible.
The survey, translated by a professional BSL presenter, highlighted a need for venue staff to wear clear face masks to help communication.
43% of those surveyed said this would help them feel “safe and secure” when venues reopen.
The IVW initiative is part of Attitude is Everything’s Next Stage artist development programme. It will bring together disabled artists and promoters for training and to develop resources.
A series of promoter workshops are planned this month to discuss how promoters currently engage with disabled artists and collaboratively develop training and resources.
Six promoters and venues have signed up to the project: The Boileroom, Guildford, The Night Owl, Birmingham, We Broke Free, Bournemouth, Scruff of the Neck, Manchester, Communion, London, and Ouroboros in York.
Rich Legate, Attitude is Everything’s Artist Development Manager, said: “This campaign is going to be a hugely positive and beneficial collaboration between promoters and artists, and aims to enrich our future live music landscape.
“Following the results of our 2019 survey we know that many artists with access requirements face challenges disclosing their health condition or impairment. We want to take the burden away and it's really exciting to be tackling this in partnership with Independent Venue Week.”
Attitude is Everything encourages other interested promoters to get in touch.
The charity has also launched a new artist survey to explore the issues facing artists returning to live performance post-pandemic.
It seeks to “build a picture of how artists with impairments and/or long-term health conditions are feeling about returning to live music”.
The findings of the survey will feed into the organisation’s campaign work and specifically the Independent Venues Week project.
Holy Moly & The Crackers singer Ruth Patterson said the IVW initiative will have a positive impact on artists "and encourage a more inclusive atmosphere for everyone in the music industry”.
She said: “Asking about access requirements for artists and crew should be as simple as asking for dietary requirements in riders and common practice.”