A recent report has found that some UK venues are not providing sufficient support for disabled artists. The findings show some venues do not provide appropriate access and facilities.
Attitude is Everything, a charity set up to improve the experiences of Deaf and disabled people at live music events, surveyed nearly 100 Deaf and disabled musicians.
70% stated they have hidden their disability for the sake of their careers and often compromised their health to perform.
Half of the participants revealed they have experienced access-related barriers when seeking rehearsal spaces with 23% claiming to have missed out on events entirely due to access issues.
“Having to explain all my access needs to people who don’t understand is very tiring and people don’t always make the accommodations I need.” One participant revealed.
59% of participants claimed they have been ignored or not taken seriously. One participant stated that some venue managers ignore requests not to use strobe lights even though band members are epileptic: “’Fobbed off’ is the easiest way to put it, so you end up not mentioning it in the end”.
Visually impaired DJ, Laura Jones, has said her requests for bright white light sources are often ignored because people don’t understand her issue as she doesn’t display any physical disability.
Blaine Harrison, lead singer for the Mystery Jets has described the findings as “heart-breaking”.
Ruth Patterson, a wheelchair-user and singer for Holy Moly and the Crackers, was not allowed to perform at one venue because she posed a health and safety risk. “They said they wouldn’t book us because I was a fire hazard. That’s absolutely horrendous.” She commented.
Suzanne Bull, CEO of Attitude is Everything described the survey as “uncomfortable reading” for the UK music industry: “Our respondents clearly raise some fundamental issues with rehearsing, recording and performing that need to be addressed. Disability cannot be treated as a taboo.”
Attitude is Everything has since launched an initiative called Next Stage to develop and promote greater inclusivity for artists. The Arts Council-funded scheme aims to spread awareness about issues facing Deaf and disabled artists and take appropriate steps to remove barriers often barring these artists from performing.