New survey reveals ‘hidden barriers’ for disabled artists

Disabled artists and those with longterm health conditions are encountering career-damaging obstacles, a new national survey finds.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 9 May 2019
  • min read
Disabled artists and those with longterm health conditions are encountering career-damaging obstacles, a new national survey finds.

Research from the charity Attitude is Everything has uncovered a number of ‘hidden’ barriers facing deaf and disabled artists across the UK music industry.

Drawn from results of a far-reaching online survey, launched as part of the charity’s Next Stage initiative, it finds that 70 percent of respondents have withheld details of their condition due to worries it will cause problems and impact relationships with promoters, venues or festivals.

Of those playing live, two in three have compromised their health or wellbeing to perform.

The findings also reveal that 96 percent of respondents 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.

Suzanne Bull MBE, chief executive of 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.’

Attitude is Everything launched its Next Stage initiative in December 2018.

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

Blaine Harrison from 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.’

The Next Stage survey findings will be presented in full today (Thursday) at The Great Escape, with a panel discussion, Breaking into ‘Normal Land’, featuring Harrison, Ruth Patterson (Holy Moly & The Crackers), DJ Laura Jones, Roxanne de Bastion (Featured Artists Coalition) and Rich Legate from the band Childcare.

See the survey results at http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/nextstage