State of Access Report presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music

Posted on 07.03.2016

State of Access Report presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music

On Monday 7th March, we were given the opportunity by hosts UK Music to present the findings and conclusions of our State of Access Report 2016 to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music at Portcullis House, Westminster. The session, chaired by Nigel Adams MP, was attended by Members of Parliament and the House of Lords, alongside representatives from the live music industry.

Our CEO, Suzanne Bull MBE, presented the findings of the report, including the headline statistics concerning the provision of access information across the industry. The report reveals that more than 1 in 3 venues and festivals do not provide access information for Deaf and disabled customers. She also introduced the Access Starts Online campaign to attendees, as the key next-step following the launch of the report.  This campaign is a call to action to the live music industry that is designed to assist any venue or festival to reassess, improve and implement access information.

Suzanne and Jacob Adams, our Research and Campaigns Manager, were joined on a panel by Paul Reed, General Manager of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust (MVT). Paul Reed described the history of collaboration between Attitude is Everything and AIF that culminated in the soft launch of the Access Starts Online campaign to AIF members in November 2015 to improve the quality of access information provision. He pointed out that whilst there is still much to do, many AIF member festivals demonstrate examples of best practice (shared in the report) that are the result of the creativity and can-do attitude of event organisers. Mark Davyd strongly supported the report on behalf of MVT, and pledged to share it with members. The fact that small independent venues were highlighted as a key target of the Access Starts Online campaign was discussed, with the panel jointly agreeing to examine the ways in which to engage with this category of venues most effectively. The report found that only 31% of venues in this category are currently providing access information.

Suzanne’s presentation culminated on a call for MPs to take three specific actions:

  • To contact music venues and festivals in their constituencies and raise awareness about Access Starts Online.
  • To encourage live music businesses nominated for the Best Venue Award at the Parliamentary “Rock The House” competition to sign up to Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice.
  • To champion the theme of “Access Generates Custom” and highlight the commercial benefits to businesses of making live music accessible.

The panel then took questions from the floor regarding the possibility of a 5th Objective being added to Licensing with a focus on equality and inclusion, and demographics of Deaf and disabled people that the industry might be currently ignoring. With regards to licensing, the panel focused on the need for any change to be within a supportive framework backed up by clear definitions of what ‘accessible’ means and what constitutes a reasonable adjustment. When it came to discussion of audience demographics, the emphasis was on specific impairment groups whose access requirements could be better catered for, including people with learning disabilities and people with vision impairments.

Speaking at the meeting, Suzanne said:

Music should be for everyone, but without comprehensive access information many disabled fans will be dissuaded from buying tickets in the first place - which is why we are calling on MP’s to support Access Starts Online and help get our message out into their constituencies.

The call to action was joined by Attitude is Everything’s Parliamentary patrons Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE and Paul Maynard MP, as well as UK Music Chief Executive Jo Dipple. 

Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE said:

It is really important that MPs and policy-makers can get behind Attitude is Everything’s Access Starts Online campaign, and ensure venues and festivals in their constituencies are providing detailed access information to disabled fans. Live music in the UK is already a billion pound business but, as was demonstrated at today’s APPG meeting, making these small changes could help increase audience numbers and make it an even greater success story.

Paul Maynard MP said:

Attitude is Everything’s 'can-do' approach has helped massively increase the numbers of Deaf and disabled people attending live music events. However, as the charity's recent State of Access Report pinpoints, there are still areas where more can be done, and especially when it comes festival and venue websites providing detailed access information. Rectifying this situation is extremely cost effective and would, at one stroke, obliterate a major barrier faced by disabled audiences - which is why we calling on all UK live music businesses to support the Access Starts Online campaign.

Jo Dipple said:

UK Music has consistently championed the vital role of venues and festivals which generate £3.1 billion in music tourism. Live music events need to be accessible to all. Attitude is Everything do tremendous work in this regard as the recent State of Access Report demonstrates. We encourage MPs to work with live music events in their constituencies to eliminate barriers to access.

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament.