UK: Leading music charity Attitude is Everything and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have announced a new online campaign to benefit millions of deaf and disabled music fans. Launched at AIF’s Festival Congress in Cardiff, Access Starts Online aims to ensure that the UK’s independent music festivals are providing a designated and detailed access information page on their website.
For disabled music lovers, such online information – although simple and cost-efficient to provide – is absolutely crucial, and often determines whether they will choose to attend a festival or gig in the first place. Additionally, many live music promotors are unaware of the broad spectrum of disability – and that less than 8% of the estimated 11.9m disabled people in the UK are wheelchair users.
To encourage positive change, the campaign will offer all AIF members an easy-to-use template detailing the type of information they should be providing.
Festivals that make the change (or who already meet the campaign’s standards) will be awarded a digital Access Starts Online stamp of approval to use on websites and social media.
The initiative will be rolled out to all UK music festivals and venues by early 2016, and ultimately aims to encourage more live music businesses to commit to Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice.
More than 100 festivals and venues in the UK have now joined the Charter – including AIF members such as 2000 Trees, Cornbury Festival, Greenbelt Festival, Just So Festival and Kendal Calling. Several others are currently working towards gaining the award.
Last year, ticket sales to deaf and disabled people at Charter venues and festivals increased by 70%.
Suzanne Bull MBE, Attitude is Everything CEO, said: “The Access Starts Online campaign does exactly what is says on the tin. A lack of access information on event websites is a major barrier to deaf and disabled fans enjoying live music, and in most instances will influence whether they actually buy a ticket in the first place. We believe the initiative will make a significant step towards change and lead to more live music businesses extending their commitment and signing our Charter of Best Practice.
“Attitude is Everything is delighted to be partnering with the Association of Independent Festivals for the campaign’s launch. Not only do they represent some of the UK’s most exciting live events, including many of my personal favourites, but as an organisation they have consistently taken a strong stand on issues that impact upon music fans such as ticket touting or legal highs. We look forward to working closely with them in future.”
Paul Reed, General Manager of the AIF, said: “Having worked closely with Attitude is Everything for some time, with various members on the charter of best practice, AIF are very pleased to extend the partnership with ‘Access Starts Online’. With most of the UK’s festivals in attendance, the Festival Congress is a fantastic launch pad for this important campaign. Access isn’t just about onsite provision but also ensuring that the right information is provided in advance on event websites and we hope to be part of a wider step change towards this within the industry”.
Rowan Hoban, Director of Just So Festival, added: “Just So Festival is thrilled to partner with Attitude is Everything on this vital initiative. We have received large amounts of positive feedback and take-up since ensuring our accessibility provision was pushed even more to the fore in 2015. Our mantra for our festival programming of a world-class outdoor arts offer for families is “if we don’t give you goosebumps we are not doing it right” and that truly must include everyone.”