Suzanne Bull: “Everybody understands the importance of small music venues”

As part of January 2016’s Independent Venue Week, Attitude is Everything supported acclaimed singer and technologist Kris Halpin to get funding for his tour from the PRS for Music Foundation and Arts Council England.

Winter of ’82 is Kris’ performing name, and the four-date tour kicked off at The Boileroom in Guildford on January 27th, before visiting Coventry, Bristol and London.

As a disabled artist Kris decided to seek technological solutions for his changing performance needs, and has worked extensively with Drake Music since 2013, becoming involved in their new partnership with award-winning artist Imogen Heap to collaborate on the development of her Mi.Mu Gloves project – exploring the music-making potential of this groundbreaking wearable technology.

With their work together attracting widespread media coverage, including the BBCWired and The IndependentThe Gloves Are On tour marked the first time Kris has taken these potentially game-changing handpieces on the road.

Speaking about the tour, Kris said: “I’m incredibly excited to bring this amazing technology with me on my first UK tour. My condition has threatened to rob me of my musicianship and performing live has been increasingly difficult – however, I knew when Drake Music introduced me to Imogen Heap and the team at Mi.Mu that the gloves could give it me back.

“In reality, they bring so much more. They are an incredible instrument that allow complex arrangements to be performed in a natural, expressive way and for the first time ever, I will be performing a live show that will bring my vision from the studio to the stage.

“As someone who has access needs, I passionately believe in the work that Attitude is Everything are doing to make live music more accessible to disabled people. Independent Venue Week is also something I see as hugely important – it supports the most interesting and unique venues this country has to offer.”

Personally I’m delighted that we partnered with Independent Venue Week and Winter of ’82 on this fantastic initiative. Everybody understands the importance of small venues to British music. They’ve been at the heart of every groundbreaking music scene and musical innovation produced in this country. My intention for Attitude is Everything was always to address the access issues of disabled musicians as well as disabled audiences, and this tour is an important way of bringing artists’ issues into the public arena where there is an important debate to be had.

I went to the final date of the tour at the Half Moon, Putney, and I was lucky enough to see Imogen Heap and Kris Halpin perform together – this was also the first time that two artists wearing the gloves had also performed together. I had an amazing experience – the show was creative, inclusive and accessible – exactly the kind of initiative that I’d always wanted Attitude is Everything to support and nurture, and it made me very proud.

For Attitude is Everything, the tour also aimed to increase awareness among small venues about how they can attract greater numbers of disabled fans and artists through their doors. According to a 2015 report by the Music Venue Trust, out of 109 small UK venues surveyed, more than one third stated that they provide no access facilities.

To help address this issue, we rolled out our Access Starts Online campaign to small venues signed up to Independent Venue Week. As reported in my November blog, we launched this initially with the Association of Independent Festivals, and during Independent Venues Week, we began encouraging venues to sign up to this online initiative to add a designated access information page to their website.

For more information about the campaign and the importance of online access, please visit: http://bit.ly/1XZf0cL