UK’s First Comprehensive Study of Venue Access Published
- Attitude is Everything’s State of Access Report Launched in the House of Commons
- Information is the Biggest Barrier for Deaf and Disabled Patrons
- Financial Gain For Music Venues with Improved Access
Attitude is Everything, a charity working to improve Deaf and disabled people’s access to UK music venues, released the first ever comprehensive research into UK venue access on 8th December 2011. Based on two years of research into over 100 music venues UK-wide, the State of Access Report was launched by Matthew Hancock MP at a lunchtime reception at the House of Commons.
Covering small local pubs to large arenas, 100 disabled and Deaf mystery shoppers assessed the accessibility and facilities of the venues between March 2009 and March 2011. These assessments are weighted towards more accessible venues because the mystery shoppers are more likely to visit venues that meet their access requirements.
To the relief of venue owners, the State of Access Report’s findings suggest that expensive solutions aren’t required to combat the main issues plaguing their Deaf and disabled patrons, in fact it found that clarity of information is one of the main barriers for disabled and Deaf gig goers. Only 64% of access information provided to the mystery shoppers was found to correctly represent the facilities at the venues audited; this can be a major issue for a disabled person, placing them in needlessly difficult situations.
The State of Access Report also focuses on improving the facilities of currently ‘accessible’ venues. Only 56% of venues audited were found to have step-free access throughout, meaning access to toilets or the bar is extremely difficult despite being able to enter the venue via step-free entrances. 56% of the venues also had a two-for-one ticketing scheme for disabled fans, forcing many to pay for themselves and their personal assistant which in turn puts pressure on an often strained budget.
In fact, improving access facilities at a venue actually proves to make hard economic sense for the owners. As those with a disability make up 20% of the UK working population, a business would be expanding its customer base by a quarter should they make it accessible throughout. Attendance of disabled people at Reading and Leeds Festival, for example, increases by at least 25% each year, demonstrating the impact of Attitude is Everything’s partnership with Festival Republic. Once Glastonbury Festival began to improve its access facilities, attendance from disabled customers increased from 195 in 2007 to 565 in 2010.
The State of Access Report was launched with the backing of Matthew Hancock MP, Patron of Attitude is Everything as part of a bid for access for disabled people to become a criterion of licence. Said Matthew “Attitude is Everything’s State of Access Report represents the first piece of systematic research into access and inclusion within the music industry. It examines views and approaches to access across the industry and sets out recommendations to ensure that all venues follow best practice. In particular, it includes suggestions for an ‘Event Standard’ to which all venues should subscribe.”
Scotland broke new ground in October 2011 in becoming the first country in the UK to require a statement on disabled provisions as a condition of new alcohol license. Attitude is Everything would like access to become a condition of license across the UK for both new and existing entertainment licenses, as well as temporary ones.
Under current Equality Law, disabled people must receive an equal experience to their non-disabled peers, meaning venues must actively work towards eradicating these inequalities. Attitude is Everything currently has a framework for the improvement of access facilities at music venues and festivals called the Charter of Best Practice. KOKO and the Roundhouse are two of the venues signed up to the Charter along with a slew of festivals such as Lovebox, Latitude and Reading Festival.
Suzanne Bull, Chief Executive Officer of Attitude is Everything said “The publication of the State of Access Report is an important milestone for Deaf and disabled music fans because for the first time, the barriers that they face at music venues are clearly identifiable. We can now see common trends in their experiences and the information that the Mystery Shoppers have provided enables us to make important recommendations on exactly how access improvements can be made.”