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New survey reveals the "hidden barriers" faced by disabled musicians and artists



 

  • Nationwide survey by music charity Attitude is Everything indicates artists with access requirements and long-term health conditions are encountering career-damaging obstacles when seeking to rehearse, record, perform live, seek funding and access industry events.
  • 70% have withheld details of their condition or impairment due to worries it will cause problems and impact relationships with promoters, venues or festivals. Of those playing live, 2 in 3 have compromised their health or wellbeing to perform.
  • In response, the charity has launched Next Stage – a new initiative to promote greater inclusivity for artists in the UK's music industry.
  • Research to be presented this morning at The Great Escape conference, with a panel discussion featuring Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets), Ruth Patterson (Holy Moly & The Crackers), DJ Laura JonesRich Legate (Childcare) and Roxanne de Bastion (Featured Artists Coalition)

 

"Consider the difficulties any musician or artist has in promoting themselves and their work. Now add access requirements and think of the determination it takes to deal with the same obstacles." [Survey respondent]

 

New research from music charity Attitude is Everything has uncovered a number of "hidden" barriers facing Deaf and disabled artists and musicians. 

Drawn from results of a nationwide online survey, launched as part of the charity's Next Stage initiative, supported by Arts Council England, it indicates that individuals with access requirements or long-term health conditions are facing a number of career-damaging obstacles.

The snapshot of 96 musicians, songwriters, DJs, producers and performers from around the UK reveals that:

Disabled artists are facing significant barriers to their career development - whether rehearsing, recording, performing live, seeking funding or attempting to engage with industry events.

  • 1 in 2 respondents said they encountered access-related barriers when seeking to rehearse in a studio or space outside of their home. 38% said they cannot access their nearest rehearsal space.
  • 79 have played live shows. Of these, 1 in 2 are disabled by physical barriers at most gigs. 1 in 5 have had to cancel a show due to physical access issues.  
  • 2 in 3 said they have had to compromise their health or wellbeing to perform live


"Disability" is not a binary. Most survey respondents have multiple impairments, including mental health conditions.

  • 66% identify as a Deaf or disabled person. 21% only sometimes identify as a Deaf or disabled person. 13% didn't identify a Deaf or disabled person. 
  • Respondents represent over 15 different impairment or health condition groups, with mental health conditions (43%) and chronic physical health conditions (41%) being most common. 2 in 3 have more than one impairment or health condition. 

Despite numerous music industry initiatives to tackle "diversity" and "mental health", discussion around artists with access requirements has been limited.

  • 70% have withheld details of a health condition or impairment because of concerns that it would negatively impact relations with a promoter, venue or festival. Of the 54 that have disclosed details, 59% said that their access requirements were ignored or not taken seriously.  
  • 96% think the industry can become more inclusive for musicians and artists with access requirements if they are enabled to become more visible and are given the opportunity to speak out about their experiences.

 

Full survey results can be downloaded here 

Attitude is Everything's Next Stage initiative was launched in December 2018. 

Inspired by existing industry-wide initiatives such as ReBalance and Keychange that encourage gender inclusivity and diversity in music, Next Stage aims to gain a greater understanding of the challenges facing disabled artists, and ensure they can be supported to reach their full creative potential.

 

Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO, Attitude is Everything, said: 
"These findings provide a snapshot of the challenges faced by a great number of artists and music makers. They will make uncomfortable reading for many in the UK music industry, but our respondents clearly raise some fundamental issues with rehearsing, recording and performing that need to be addressed. Disability cannot be treated as a taboo.  

"As part of our Next Stage initiative, I look forward to sharing this research with colleagues and partners such as Arts Council England, PRS Foundation, Help Musicians UK, Pirate Studios and Jerwood Arts and building towards our goal of a more diverse and inclusive business." 

Blaine Harrison, Mystery Jets, said:
"Making a living from music is tough enough. But for musicians with access requirements, it can be even tougher. In 2019, it is absolutely heartbreaking that so many artists are still encountering barriers and obstacles between them and their audience. 
"This is why Attitude is Everything's Next Stage initiative is so so important, and why the industry needs to get behind this inspired drive for greater inclusivity."

Ruth Patterson, Holy Moly & the Crackers, said:
"I believe that with the help of organisations like Attitude is Everything, we can begin to change the way deaf and disabled artists are treated within the music industry. I think that this survey is a big step in the right direction. Asking questions and sharing experiences is the only way things will ever change, and we need more of those kind of conversations. 
It is saddening, but completely unsurprising, that 20% of the performing artists that were surveyed said they had cancelled a show because of access issues related to the venue. It is normal for venues to expect me, the lead singer of my band, to be carried and heaved around by my band members because of a lack of access. I can't think of any other another industry where this is common place and the music industry has got to to step up and make serious changes. 
"I look forward to a time where seeing someone like me on stage isn't "inspirational" or "admirable" but just the same as seeing a disabled person in any other form of work, and that is what our future generation of artists need to see and aspire to."

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:
"UK Music is proud to support Attitude is Everything. The work that they do is vital in helping to break down barriers for musicians and artists with disabilities.
"The Next Stage survey powerfully reminds the industry of the real impact that living with a disability can have on performers.  
"Not all disabilities are visible, which is why it is so important that we create inclusive environments within the music industry."

Joe Frankland, Senior Grants & Programmes Manager, PRS Foundation, said:
"The Next Stage survey findings prove that the music industry and those of us striving to support a diverse range of exciting talent have a long way to go to address the challenges facing disabled music creators.
"More can be done to ensure that financial support is in place to tackle barriers associated with a wide range of access needs. More alarmingly, we are failing exceptional new talent if the process of applying for funding or talent development support is inaccessible. PRS Foundation is therefore pleased to be working alongside Attitude is Everything, like-minded funding bodies, Next Stage Artists and our Talent Development Partners to address those barriers."

 

Going forward, Next Stage will focus on 5 specific areas:

  • NEXT STAGE ARTISTS - Creating opportunities for artists to connect with each other and generating platforms for artists to influence the industry and push their music forward.
  • NEXT STAGE SPACES - Collaborating with Pirate Studios to demonstrate best practice in rehearsal and recording spaces and working with partners to ensure industry events are truly open to all.
  • NEXT STAGE VENUES & FESTIVALS - Working with venues and festivals to promote access for artists and connecting with bookers to promote Next Stage Artists.
  • NEXT STAGE PROMOTERS - Building upon Attitude is Everything's DIY Access Guide, creating new guidance and training to support promoters at every level to make their shows as inclusive as possible.

 

The Next Stage survey findings will be presented in full today (May 9th) at The Great Escape, with a panel discussion (Breaking Into 'Normal Land') featuring Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets), Ruth Patterson (Holy Moly & The Crackers), DJ Laura JonesRoxanne de Bastion (Featured Artists Coalition) and Rich Legate from the band Childcare. Rich has also led the Next Stage initiative for Attitude is Everything. 

The panel takes place at 11am, Jury's Inn Waterfront, Conference Room 2. 

Full information here: https://greatescapefestival.com/convention-event/breaking-into-normal-land/

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