Small venues open up to disabled fans

Grassroots Venue Charter of Best Practice is a new initiative by Attitude is Everything. It’s aimed at small and independent music venues to implement low or zero-cost access solutions to help boost the growing audience of deaf and disabled music fans.

Headed up by Natalie South, the new Charter targets and accompanying guidance are designed to encourage venue organisers through a wide range of topics, and ultimately enable the achievement of Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.

The Grassroots Charter launches with official backing of the Music Venue Trust. MVT member Tunbridge Wells Forum is the first grassroots venue to be awarded a Bronze level certificate.

Richard Simm, co-owner of Tunbridge Wells Forum, said: “Attitude is Everything’s advice has been invaluable in improving access by better understanding the needs of deaf and disabled patrons. Live music, enjoyed up close as only a small venue can provide is a beautiful thing, and should be available to all.”

This new Charter is also designed to complement Attitude is Everything’s existing Charter of Best Practice. The Grassroots Charter will allow venues without a disabled toilet to sign up.

Small venues without a disabled toilet can still make efforts to welcome customers by liaising with local business to agree use of their facilities, and signpost these for gig goers.

Flexibility and creativity

The emphasis of the programme is on flexibility and creativity, but without compromising on the underlying goal of ensuring that these music hubs are inclusive and accessible to everyone in the community.

The Bronze-entry level targets that Attitude is Everything will support include:

  • Access information posted to the venue’s website that is signed-off via Attitude is Everything’s Access Starts Online initiative
  • Basic access information provided in tech specs for promoters and bands
  • Free of charge tickets for personal assistants (via use of guest-list allocations or in partnership with promoters)

This new Charter is part of the charity’s Breaking The Sound Barriers programme, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of Attitude is Everything, said: “Many artists cut their teeth and hone their performances in local venues all across the UK, and to be able to open these venues up to disabled artists and audiences is really exciting.”

Now awarded to over 130 venues and festivals, the Charter of Best Practice has helped develop access facilities and greatly increase the volume of disabled audiences attending live events.

Data provided by the charity shows that ticket sales to disabled fans at Charter festivals and venues increased by 21% in 2016 with an estimated economic impact of almost £8m.

Photo caption: Tunbridge Wells Forum becomes the first UK venue to be awarded the initial Bronze award. Picrued (L-R) Eloise Bulmer, Richard Simm, Natalie South of Attitude is Everything and Jason Dormon.