In December 2014 the Music Venue Trust partnered with Attitude is Everything and other organisations to host Venues Day, celebrating the UK’s small, grassroots venues. As we partner again with them for Venues Day 2015, we look at the changes one grassroots venue, the New Cross Inn, have made since signing up to our Charter of Best Practice following last year’s event.
The State of Access
A recent Music Venue’s Trust report, Understanding Small Music Venues, found that more than a third of small venues surveyed stated that they had ‘no disabled access,’ making working with such venues a priority for Attitude is Everything. As noted by Suzanne Bull MBE, Attitude is Everything CEO, Charter venues attract “greater numbers of disabled fans and disabled artists” as a result of often low or zero-cost tweaks regarding accessibility, thus inviting new audiences into the backbone of the music community, which is “not only good for their business, but for British music overall.”
We wanted to highlight some of the things a small venue can do by shining a light on the work one of the attending venues at Venues Day 2014 has since carried out with our support:
New Cross Inn
The New Cross Inn has played a vital role in the brief post-millennium New Cross scene, hosting up-and-coming Attitude is Everything supporting artists such as Art Brut and Bloc Party. Since then its importance in the local scene has only grown, and we were very pleased to recently award them with the Bronze level of the Charter.
The New Cross Inn has implemented several recent changes in order to achieve this, including reworking their online information in order to be both broader and clearer, arranging a viewing area upon request, and offering a free Personal Assistant ticket which does not require reservation before arrival.
Alongside this, the New Cross Inn provides level access from the main entrance to the performance area, a lowered section of the bar so wheelchair users may order themselves, and they have also refurbished their accessible toilet during a recent complete venue refurbishment.
Katy Oliver, New Cross Inn’s Events and Programme Manager, feels that “Attitude is Everything gave us a lot of support and helped us work around the limitations we faced.” Perhaps surprisingly, she estimates that it cost a mere “£60 to complete (our) Bronze Award,” making the New Cross Inn an excellent example of the easy and positive changes small venues can make to lives of Deaf and disabled music fans.
The accessible toilet at New Cross Inn, indicated by both the International Symbol of Access and a Braille translation
In the short time since making these changes, New Cross Inn have received a great response from staff and customers alike. Thanks to accessibility information being clearly outlined online, customers have begun to phone the venue for help when buying tickets, something which had never happened before. “There’s been a noticeable uptake on the information and resources provided,” notes Katy; “so we’ve gained more customers.”
The venue has also benefited from issuing Personal Assistant tickets, attracting customers who would have previously been unable to attend their events.
Staff have been especially positive about the changes, and even potential staff have been encouraged by the accessibility efforts made by the New Cross Inn:
“I had a job application come through recently which stated that all the access information that was now on the website was one of the details about the venue that they’d noticed that demonstrated we were the kind of place who payed attention to stuff and therefore somewhere he’d like to work – thank you Attitude is Everything!”
Attitude is Everything’s Senior Project Manager, Gideon Feldman, worked alongside this venue to improve their accessibility and is very proud of the changes they have made. He will feature on The Big Issues: Business Up – Be Inspired panel at Venues Day 2015 to explain the many easy ways small venues can improve their access and why they should consider doing so:
“Small local venues are so important to the local community and putting in place little access changes can make such a difference and say this venue is for everyone. It’s in the name: Attitude is Everything.”
Gideon Feldman, Senior Project Manager, Attitude is Everything