Blog: How Field Day embraced #MusicWithoutBarriers

Attitude Is Everything’s founder Suzanne Bull MBE ignited a meaningful industry movement through #MusicWithoutBarriers, and Field Day 2015 is another recent success story.

I started at Attitude is Everything as project manager; advising on the access facilities, liaising with production, being present for the site build and supporting customers onsite.

Now that we have Paul Hawkins as our festival project manager and Gideon Feldman as our senior project manager, my role at festivals is to have my photograph taken with artists holding up our #MusicWithoutBarriers sign.  Yep, that really is a real job.

#MusicWithoutBarriers – our campaign that highlighted music industry support for millions of Deaf and disabled fans to gain equal access to live music – was launched in July 2014.  Stevie Wonder, The Cure, Chvrches and Belle & Sebastian were amongst major artists to give their backing.  Our online initiative also won support from the Featured Artist Coalition, the Music Managers Forum, the Musicians’ Union, and more than 100 UK festivals and venues who had already signed the Charter.

At the same time, thousands of fans from around the also pledged their support at www.musicwithoutbarriers.org and on social media, highlighting the campaign’s four key messages:

•          Improving access does not have to be costly
•          There is a strong business case for improving access
•          It is crucial to have access information in advance of an event
•          Not all disabled people are wheelchair users

#MusicWithoutBarriers was first big success in campaigning. In its first week, it attracted 4,500 unique visitors to our website the equivalent to three months’ traffic in one week, 1,350+ tweets with a potential reach of 4.5m people, Facebook posts with reach of 35,000, plus global media coverage (including Rolling Stone – thanks to The Cure’s tour in South America, NME and BBC News).

Using artists to influence and reach the general public about any issue is a powerful way to campaign for social change and raise awareness, but I love how interested artists become when they realise that there is a campaign directly linked to their passion – live music.  Many artists that I’ve spoken to go on to get further involved, such as becoming Patrons (Robert Wyatt, Blaine Harrison) and playing Club Attitude (Slow Club, Toy).

I took the opportunity at Field Day to doorstep more artists and wave the #MusicWithoutBarriers sign in their faces (in a friendly way, of course!).

Attitude is Everything have been working with Eat Your Own Ears and Field Day since 2010, when we partnered on a project with Tower Hamlets Arts and Events Team.

This was to sign all festivals that take place on Victoria Park adhere to our Charter of Best Practice and improve access for Deaf and disabled audiences by making it part of their contracts.

For five years, Field Day has consistently built upon their access facilities which include increasing the size and number of viewing platforms, producing advance information and maps and having dedicated parking.

In addition, they have a superb access coordinator, Scott Kennedy, who goes out of his way to make disabled customers feel really comfortable and included at the festival; for me, this attention to “customer experience” is what makes Field Day stand out from a lot of other festivals.  I always love going there because I know that I’m welcome and supported.  It’s not just about the toilets and platforms!

I was given a VIP wristband to make meeting artists easier, demonstrating that Eat Your Own Ears is very supportive in helping us to further our message.  Their VIP area is also quite small and informal which makes it very easy to meet artists and engage them in friendly conversation.

I took up my usual position of hanging out by the media tent, knowing that sooner or later, an artist would stop by for the official photo or interview.  This time I was lucky enough to meet artists including Andy Bell (Ride), Zibrazibrazibra and Lenny Kaye who all pledged their support for Attitude is Everything’s work.

www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk