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Research aims to increase understanding of the hidden challenges facing disabled artists and musicians when recording, performing and applying for funding.

Photo of Signkid
UK rapper and producer Signkid, who supports the initiatives

Attitude is Everything

Charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) has announced plans to create a “comprehensive artist network” connecting people with access requirements to fundraising and showcasing opportunities, in a bid to support talent development and build “a more accessible music industry”. 

The work will be informed by a major new survey into the experiences of Deaf and disabled musicians, including questions on rehearsing, making arts funding applications, recording in the studio, and performing live shows. 

AIE said the research will help address a “knowledge gap” in society about the difficulties facing disabled artists across the industry.

Referring to a recent report from UK Music that identified potential threats to the UK’s “talent pipeline” – namely education, infrastructure, and accessing finance – AIE said:

“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”.

Artist network

The programme has already secured significant support from industry organisations including Help Musicians UK, the Musicians’ Union, PRS Foundation and UK Music.

Suzanne Bull, CEO of AIE, described the survey and artist network as an “ambitious departure” for the organisation: “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 in public. There are a range of stigmas and sensibilities. So our first goal is to collect information through a comprehensive and wide-reaching survey.”

She continued: “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.”

Blaine Harrison, a musician in the band Mystery Jets, said that now is the time “for the Paralympians of the arts to be given the platform they deserve”.

“In much the same way that the conversation around mental health has opened up, hearing the experiences and voices of disabled artists will hugely diversify and enrich the music industry of tomorrow,” he added. 

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher praised the initiative, saying it would play a key role in identifying “where we need to do more as an industry to empower artists with impairments or long-term conditions”.

“It will help tackle the knowledge gap around the challenges that disabled musicians face. It will also help boost creativity and nurture the talent pipeline on which our industry relies,” he added.