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Association of Independent Festivals Endorses MU Access Rider Scheme

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has endorsed the MU’s Access Rider to its membership and will be holding a session to explain what access riders are, why we need them, and why festivals should adopt them as a standard part of all contracting.

Published: 03 June 2024 | 4:30 PM Updated: 05 June 2024 | 1:24 PM
Silhouettes of crowd in front of a small festival stage in blue light.
A universal access rider, created by musicians with lived experience, is the best way to engage artists in conversations about access. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Disabled musicians still face many barriers navigating a career in the music industry. Research led by Harbourside Artist Management in 2021 revealed that:

  • 88% of people working in the music industry who identified as having a disability or long-term health condition ‘sometimes’ or ‘never’ disclosed the impairment or condition to those who they work with.
  • 69% of those people admitted that this had put their health and safety at risk.

Reasons given for not disclosing that information included fears of discrimination and of less future work. This echoes previous research from Attitude is Everything, which found that 70% of artists had withheld details of a health condition or impairment because they worried that doing so would cause problems and impact a relationship with a promoter, venue, or festival.

The MU’s Access Rider was created by disabled musicians in the hope of changing those stats.

Introduction to Access Riders webinar

The concept of a rider is familiar to musicians and fans alike - a document that sets out what musicians need to perform; unlike traditional riders, an access rider sets out what access an artist needs to enable them to do their job.

As yet Access Riders aren’t a music industry standard, but the MU is working with organisations such as AIF and Attitude is Everything to change that. Access riders can help make it safer for artists to disclose their needs, as well as helping to change attitudes and perceptions of disabled artists by the music industry.

AIF’s ‘Introduction to Access Riders’ webinar was led by MU Member and Cheltenham Festival’s Innovation Manager, Andrew Lansley online, on Wednesday 5 June.

The aim of the workshop was to empower festivals to implement the MU Access Rider as part of their booking process and to proactively ask artists about their access needs, creating a more inclusive music industry for everyone.

AIF’s endorsement is a major milestone in our work to make the industry a level playing field

Kelly Wood, MU National Organiser for Live, Theatre and Music Writers says: Proactively asking about access creates a safe space for disabled artists to disclose their access needs.

“Some bookers don’t know where to start with those conversations, so a universal access rider, created by musicians with lived experience, is the best way to engage artists in conversations about access.

“Normalising these conversations means the access rider will become just a standard part of the booking process for all musicians, and AIF’s endorsement is a major milestone in our work to make the industry a level playing field for all musicians. Centering the voices of disabled musicians, and working together as an industry to remove the barriers they face is the way we’ll achieve that”.

John Rostron, CEO of Association of Independent Festivals adds:We’re delighted to be working with the Musicians’ Union on this important piece of work. AIF member festivals want to be inclusive, accessible spaces for audiences, crew and artists alike.

“Raising standards and improving practice is a constant within our work, and we’re confident that this training and information sharing session, as well as the communication to members on this topic, will help during this festival season and through festivals and events to come.”

The MU Access Rider scheme has been transformational

Andrew Lansley, MU member and Cheltenham Festival’s Innovation Manager said: The MU Access Rider scheme has been transformational for my experience as a disabled musician. It is a brilliant, community generated tool that helps to create a space for artists, managers and event staff to discuss how musicians can be supported with their performances.

“It has completely changed how I experience performance, and it really helps event organisers understand exactly what you need onstage. I have made it a personal mission to help as many venues, festivals and musicians to benefit from this simple and effective solution as possible.”

Representing and advocating on behalf of disabled musicians

At the MU we advocate on behalf of disabled and/or neurodivergent musicians to ensure their rights are upheld and strengthened – where they encounter discrimination, we’ll challenge it.  

Join our Disabled Member Network

The Disabled Members Network is a space for MU members who identify as disabled and/or neurodivergent to meet and discuss issues that impact their communities, shape MU policy, and change the music industry and the MU for the better.

Join the Disabled Member Network

Representing and advocating on behalf of disabled musicians

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Silhouettes of crowd in front of a small festival stage in blue light.

Association of Independent Festivals Endorses MU Access Rider Scheme

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has endorsed the MU’s Access Rider to its membership and will be holding a session to explain what access riders are, why we need them, and why festivals should adopt them as a standard part of all contracting.

Published: 03 June 2024

Read more about Association of Independent Festivals Endorses MU Access Rider Scheme
A violinist playing as part of a live orchestra performance.

MU, BLiM and ABO Launch Landmark Agreement to Diversify UK Orchestras

The MU has partnered with Black Lives in Music (BLiM) and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) to launch the 10 Point Orchestral Plan. The plan will enhance opportunities for all orchestral musicians across the UK, driving change for more inclusive recruitment.

Published: 30 April 2024

Read more about MU, BLiM and ABO Launch Landmark Agreement to Diversify UK Orchestras