New report says live music industry is failing to recognise that 'access starts online’ for disabled fans

22/02/16 - Music charity Attitude is Everything has published its third State of Access Report, which provides a snap-shot of UK live music accessibility and the barriers that disabled music fans are facing at gigs and festivals.

The report, which was launched today at London’s Bush Hall with support from Glastonbury Festival, Association of Independent Festivals, Bristol’s Colston Hall and Independent Venue Week, says that simple changes to online information provision could have a dramatic impact on the experiences of Deaf and disabled customers.

Key findings from the report include:

1/3 of venue and festival websites provide no access information

For disabled fans, the first barrier to accessing live music typically happens before they’ve even purchased a ticket. Detailed access information on venue and festival websites is essential for 20% of the UK population to be able to determine whether they can attend an event. Disabled audiences are unlikely to attend live music events unless they know their diverse range of access requirements can be met.

2/3 of independent venues provide no access information.

The lack of access information is particularly pronounced at independent venues, where most people start their relationships with live music as both artists and audience members. A lack of information often implies poor physical access, even if that is not the case.

Less than 1/5 of websites surveyed provide 'good’ access information

Comprehensive information is crucial – knowing whether there are two steps, or two flights of stairs, or whether you can bring a Personal Assistant, or find an area to sit down, could be the difference between a fan buying tickets or not.

The findings and conclusions are based on 280 mystery shopping reports by Deaf and disabled people, bespoke research including a survey of 386 venue and festival websites, and a set of case-studies drawn from the hundreds of venues and festivals the charity works with

Access Starts Online campaign

In response to the findings, Attitude is Everything is calling on the UK live music industry to join their Access Starts Online campaign.

This initiative supports event organisers to add a comprehensive access information page to their website via an easy-to-use online template.

The campaign was developed in partnership with the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Independent Venue Week. Nine AIF member festivals have joined the campaign so far, along with The Tin in Coventry becoming the first venue to sign up.

Full details can be found at: www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/accessstartsonline

Commenting on the importance of live music businesses taking action, Attitude is Everything Chief Executive, Suzanne Bull MBE, said:

"Digital has revolutionised the live sector and how music lovers buy tickets, find information and share their experiences. However, as highlighted in the State of Access Report, a lack of decent online access information websites has become a constant source of frustration to millions of disabled fans. Evidence suggests that many will not risk attending an event if they are unsure about access facilities. We should not be letting these online failures hold back the tide of progress, especially when they are so easy to fix.

"Signing up to Attitude is Everything’s Access Starts Online initiative is something all live music businesses can do. Not only does it cost nothing, but it represents a vital first step towards greater inclusivity and improved customer service that help these venues and festivals to reach new audiences. Working together, we can make the UK’s live music sector the most accessible in the world.”

Glastonbury Festival’s Emily Eavis, who wrote the State of Access Report’s foreword said:

"Glastonbury Festival has always prided itself on being an event that is open and inclusive. In 2005, we realised that we needed help to improve our offering to Deaf and disabled customers to ensure that this was the case, so we reached out to Attitude is Everything for advice and guidance.

"In the first two years of our partnership, fewer than 100 Glastonbury-goers registered to use the Festival’s access facilities. A decade on, we now welcome more than 600 Deaf and disabled customers to each festival, alongside having over 100 Deaf and disabled crew members working on the event itself. We are also very proud to have become the first camping festival in the UK to be awarded the Gold standard of the Charter of Best Practice.

"It is a vital that all festival goers can easily access clear information about how to buy tickets, what facilities are available onsite and how they can arrange for the necessary support in order to be able to attend. We’re very pleased to be continuing our work with Attitude is Everything to ensure this.”

Paul Reed, General Manager of the Association of Independent Festivals said:

"The launch of this report is an important milestone. The key reason that we launched the 'Access Starts Online' campaign with Attitude Is Everything last year was to effect genuine change across the industry.

"With less than 1 in 5 websites providing good access information, this is a wake-up call for the industry to engage with the campaign as a crucial starting point. Almost half of AIF’s 55 members are now engaging with Attitude is Everything and we will continue to work together to improve accessibility for customers, coming up with creative solutions that take into account the myriad challenges faced by independent festivals.”

This year’s State of Access Report also found that:

* Personal Assistants tickets were not offered free of charge by 15% of festivals and 28% of venues
* Accessible parking was advertised by 86% of large venues and 56% of medium-sized venues - but only 33% of small venues
* 1 in 5 camping festivals do not have a dedicated accessible campsite
* 1 out of 3 venues visited had steps at the main entrance
* 4 out of 5 venues do not have a viewing platforms
* Just 61% of venues advertised the presence of accessible toilets - although, when visited, 88% had one available on the night
* 38% of venues visited featured a lowered bar - a significant increase on the 22% reported in the last State of Access Report in 2014