Attitude Is Everything, the disability-led charity improving deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, shares its five tips for booking disabled artists with the Musicians’ Union.
1. Use venues that can provide step-free access to the stage, or offer a step-free setup somewhere else in the venue.
“Access requirements are sort of like a tech spec,” says Rich Legate (AIE Artists Development Manager). “They are different for every act and are the requirements that make a performance possible for that artist. But if you are limited on resources, there will always be creative solutions to make things work,” he adds.
2. Book diverse artists to involve diverse people.
“Progressive and diverse programming is the way forward. Be cool and do things differently,” says Rich.
3. Allow sufficient time for soundchecks, and be prepared for questions and different ways of communicating.
For Rich, your communication with an artist is an opportunity to learn and make your events more inclusive for everyone.
4. Invite artists to discuss any access requirements and, with their permission, make sure relevant venue staff know about them.
“Understand that health conditions can fluctuate, and be ready to adjust set durations and stage times to accommodate this,” advises Rich. “A musician should always give you the thumbs up before you share any personal details with others,” he adds.
5. Provide an access statement on your website letting people know what they can expect at every show.
Rich recommends providing a musician with clear details of the performance space and backstage area to help them plan and prepare for the day of a gig. “Think about steps, areas of low light, where toilets are, and which staff and crew they should expect to interact with,” he says.
You can find out more in AIE’s DIY Access Guide, which contains practical advice for artists and promoters on how to make gigs and tours more accessible for deaf and disabled people. It includes advice on everything from making accessible flyers to taking an inclusive gig on tour.