Mission To Make 2023 Most Accessible Year Yet for Live Music

Following a 2022 festival season that saw a mixed picture when it came to disabled people’s ability to easily access and enjoy outdoor shows, music and live events industry accessibility charity Attitude is Everything has partnered with the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) and the British Arts Festival Association (BAFA) to support their combined memberships of 200 festivals to play their part in making 2023 the most accessible summer yet.

Collectively, these organisations represent more than 200 events that attract more than 1m ticket buyers each year. These include some of the UK’s best-loved music and arts festivals, such as Boardmasters, Boomtown Fair, End of the Road, Cambridge Folk Festival and the BBC Proms.

Under the banner #FestivalsWithoutBarriers all have been issued with 3 calls to action in order to help improve the experience for disabled customers and increase attendances.

These are:

  1. Plan to provide quality access information to disabled audiences at the point of tickets going on sale by implementing Attitude is Everything’s Access Starts Online
  2. Integrate questions about access requirements into the artist booking process.
  3. Implement practical changes to make festival workplaces and festival volunteering accessible to disabled people.

Attitude is Everything will support AIF, AFO and BAFA members to implement these actions via their existing Access Starts Online and Accessible Employment Guide publications, alongside the publication of new guidance on inclusive artist booking for festivals and a forthcoming guide to accessible volunteering.  

In addition to these resources, the partnership between the four organisations aims to offer members:

  • Introductions to Attitude is Everything’s Live Events Access Charter and subsidised Disability Equality Training, delivered in part by participants on the charity’s Future Leaders programme for aspiring disabled event industry professionals.
  • A series of symposiums on implementing the four guides.
  • Opportunities to learn from the lived experience of disabled audience members, artists and professionals drawn from the charity’s three networks of disabled people.

On the announcement of the initiative, Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything, said:

“I see this new partnership between Attitude is Everything, AIF, AFO and BAFA as a powerful force in transforming the industry. The experiences of disabled people over the 2022 festival season appear to have been quite mixed, especially when it comes to availability of pre-event information, booking accessible tickets and the level of access onsite. Working together we will drive through the change necessary to improve access for disabled audiences, artists, employees and volunteers. As a disabled person, I’m looking forward to a stress-free festival season in 2023!”

Leaders of the three associations also welcomed the landmark partnership:

Paul Reed, Outgoing CEO, Association of Independent Festivals: 

“We’re very pleased to expand our long term partnership with Attitude is Everything on this initiative. It has been seven years since we launched Access Starts Online together and this expands the remit to artists, changes in the workplace and vital training opportunities for AIF members. Accessibility at festivals is truly a cross-sector issue and it’s hugely positive to see our friends at AFO and BAFA also get onboard. Let’s work together to ensure that 2023 is the most accessible year for UK festivals yet”.

Steve Heap, General Secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers:

“The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) has been working alongside Attitude is Everything for some years now in a drive to improve accessibility both in the audience and on stage for deaf and disabled people. The AFO is now very pleased indeed to be sitting with such a powerful and positive organisation that intends to help guide members and increase access and participation in 2023.  With 14.6 million people in the UK being disabled there is a vast potential audience that may not be attending festivals for fear of inaccessibility. Here at AFO we are now discovering more and more disabled performers who could form part of our programme and helping our AFO members make their festivals more accessible. We look forward to supporting and working with Attitude is Everything for some years to come.”

Fiona Goh, Director of British Arts Festivals Association:

“British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA) is delighted to be working alongside its sister organisations, AFO and AIF, in helping to make 2023 the most accessible year yet for UK festivals.  Our partnership with Attitude is Everything will help guide our members to increase access and participation by disabled audiences, artists and staff, beginning at the point of sale and running right through festival delivery.  There’s never been a more important time to ensure that festivals are accessible to all, and we look forward to seeing a more diverse and inclusive audience in our festivals next year.”