UK: Attitude Is Everything – an organisation that strives to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music – has revealed that there has been a significant rise in the number of deaf and disabled fans attending live music events in the UK, highlighting the positive economic impact in ensuring accessibility at festivals.
Compiling sales from festivals and venues on our Charter of Best Practice, AIE found that almost 144,000 disabled tickets were sold in 2015, compared to 114,000 in 2014 – an increase of 26%.
The direct economic impact of these sales (including food and drink, and spend by Personal Assistants) is estimated at £7.5 million.
2015’s ticketing increases can be partly attributed to 14 new Charter sign-ups during the survey period across a range of venues and events, including The Half Moon in Putney, Bristol’s Colston Hall, Pride Cymru, The Lowry in Manchester, and Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena. In all, these 14 businesses were responsible for some 11,000 ticket sales, and a £500k economic impact – although the existing 89 Charter venues and festivals also increased their combined disabled audience by 19,000 (13%) year-on-year, generating an extra £1.5 million.
Attitude is Everything patron Jon Drape, Managing Director of event production specialists Ground Control, which has overseen dramatic increases in disabled ticket sales at Festival Number 6 (up 107% in 2015), Parklife (up 55%), and Kendal Calling (up 30%) said: “Ground Control is extremely proud of our long association with Attitude is Everything, and the fact that Parklife, Kendal Calling and Festival Number 6 have all reached Silver Status on the Charter of Best Practice. Suzanne and her team take a very pragmatic approach to their work, enabling us to tailor access facilities around each individual event and make improvements and innovations each year. The success of this approach is born out by today’s figures, which also highlight the growing demand for deaf and disabled fans to attend live music events.”
Attitude is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull, added: “Ticket sales across 103 of our Charter venues and festivals contributed more than £7.5m to the UK’s music economy. Which, for those live businesses not partnering with us, begs one simple question: what are you waiting for?”
Rowan Hoban, Director of Just So, a Silver Charter festival who saw an amazing 189% increase in disabled ticket sales in 2015, had this to say: “We have been proud to work with Attitude is Everything on this vital initiative. We were one of the first festivals to sign up to the Access Starts Online campaign and are thrilled to now be working to achieve the Gold Standard in the Charter of Best Practice. Providing a named contact person, developing comprehensive site descriptions, bookable access facilities and pioneering new programme guidelines where audiences can make truly informed choices are just a few of the things we have implemented which have resulted in removing crucial potential barriers. Critically, we are having much great feedback and dialogue with our audience.”
Silver Charter venue the Barbican has been doing the following to improve accessibility, according to its Director of Arts Louise Jeffreys: “We are strongly committed to providing the best access possible for our deaf and disabled customers to ensure everyone has the opportunity to engage with the arts. This commitment ranges from making sure our venues are physically accessible, to programming relaxed performances designed to engage those who may have an Autism spectrum condition or a learning disability. We also programme events with subtitles, which many deaf or hard of hearing audience members find beneficial, and are proud to offer an increasingly popular access membership scheme. We believe that accessibility is an essential part of being a world class arts venue.”
Hatti Simpson, Operations Officer at Cambridge Junction, a Bronze Charter venue who oversaw a 55% increase in disabled ticket sales in 2015, added: “Over the past year, we’ve proactively been developing how we respond to access requirements across departments. Our operations team and technicians work closely together to ensure all customers have a positive experience at Cambridge Junction – this encompasses everything from adjusting our ticket booking experience to the configuration of our performance spaces. Our venue is fully accessible, and this year we’ve made a conscious effort to publicise this and ensure our customers are aware of what we can offer them. We have also continued to offer both Relaxed and BSL interpreted performances as well as expanding our programme to include more work by disabled-led companies and shows focusing on accessibility and diversity. We feel that constantly reviewing the way we work and implementing positive change has encouraged return bookers with access requirements as well as encouraging new customers to attend events.”