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How to hack a music venue for disabled audiences

Attitude is Everything (AiE) has released a new DIY Access guide featuring a series of “cheap and simple hacks” to make gigs and shows more inclusive, and help artists and promoters maximise their audiences. The zine-style publication was launched today at the Off The Record, the multi-venue live music event and conference in Manchester.

The aim of the guide is to make performances as accessible as possible, even if a stage is up or down a flight of stairs.

The guide provides advice on:

  • How to set up an accessible seated viewing area
  • How to make your own DIY captions for lyrics
  • Information to include on online event pages
  • How to make an accessible flyer
  • What you can do with shows at an inaccessible venue

Commenting on the publication, Suzanne Bull MBE said: “Attitude is Everything has ambitions to make all live music events as inclusive as possible – and particularly those promoted at small grassroots venues. Even what appear relatively minor changes can make a big difference in practice.

“That’s the reason we’ve put together this easy-to-use guide. Nobody should cut off from their local music scene – whether that’s the millions of disabled people who want to attend gigs and shows, or Deaf and disabled artists who are looking to perform. By following our simple advice, promoters and artists can help make live music so much more accessible, and attract a whole new audience into the bargain.”

AiE said it will present the DIY Access guide during the panel discussion  “Break Down Barriers, We Will Come” at the Off The Record. The session features Attitude is Everything CEO, Suzanne Bull MBE, music blogger Hannah McKearnen, Revenge of Calculon’s Rob Maddison, and Richard Phoenix from the band Sauna Youth and Constant Flux – a community interest group who promote punk shows by learning disabled musicians.

Rob Maddison said: “This guide has all the vital information needed to engage with disabled audiences and artists, making it a must-read for all bands and promoters.’

Hannah McKearnan added: “Most places do not intentionally shut us out, they’re just lacking the right tools and knowledge. It’s so important for bands and promoters to be aware of the access barriers that their fans face, so they can work with venues to solve them.”

The guide, made possible by PRS Foundation and Arts Council England funding, draws upon Attitude is Everything’s 17 years experience of putting on inclusive gigs – most recently at DIY Space for London as part of the In-Sight Weekend. This gig was part of a series of events created in collaboration with Constant Flux that featured talks by disabled artists, as well as workshops on improved accessibility.

Earlier this year, Attitude is Everything launched a new programme called Breaking The Sound Barriers with backing from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Focussed on improving access at small venues, this led to the launch in August 2017 of a new Grassroots Venue Charter of Best Practice.

The guide can be downloaded from the Attitude is Everything website.