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Attitude is Everything Launch Just Ask Campaign to Support Promoters to Welcome Disabled Artists

The MU welcomes the Just Ask campaign, and encourages conversations between promoters and disabled musicians to talk about their access needs and normalise the use of access riders.

Published: 07 April 2022 | 12:55 PM
A Black woman sits and looks into a mirror while placing her hearing aid into her right ear. The woman is wearing black and her hair is pulled back by a scarf.
“Asking about access requirements for artists and crew should be as simple as asking for dietary requirements in riders and common practice.” Photo credit: Disabled and Here

Attitude is Everything and Independent Venue Week (IVW) joined forces in March to launch new guidance and a training programme to help live promoters increase accessibility and enable Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent to flourish on the live circuit.

Promoters at all levels of the industry are now invited to join Attitude is Everything’s Just Ask campaign and ensure that all artists (and their crew) are given the chance to share access requirements ahead of a performance, by asking this simple question: “do you or any of your crew members have access requirements?”.

An Attitude is Everything survey in 2019 found that 70% of artists had withheld details of a health condition or impairment due to being worried that doing so would cause problems and impact a relationship with a promoter, venue or festival. As a result, 2 in 3 have compromised their health or wellbeing to perform live.

Artists and promoters united

In advance of Independent Venue Week 2022, a group of 20 promoters took part in the Just Ask pilot, attending a training session and using the online Just Ask guide to take accessible steps when engaging with artists:

Three joint artist ambassadors for the Next Stage initiative & the FAC (Featured Artists Coalition) welcomed the announcement.

Ruth Lyon, Solo artist and singer of Holy Moly & the Crackers, said:

“Asking about access requirements for artists and crew should be as simple as asking for dietary requirements in riders and common practice. This will have a positive impact on artists and encourage a more inclusive atmosphere for everyone in the music industry.”

Ali Hirsz of Idealistics said:

"Disabled artists are often left to fend for themselves without the right support from venues and promoters, by coming together and learning from each other we can make sure that all talent gets the chance to shine in the live music industry."

Benny Bizzie said:

“I look forward to a time where meeting access needs is standard practice. Deaf and disabled people will then feel included, valued, and lead happier creative lives."

How can promoters get involved in Just Ask?

Bookings are now open for free monthly open training sessions. Alongside the training sessions, the Just Ask guide is now available to download online. It includes tips and practical advice for working with disabled artists around live performance.

As a result of the pilot programme, IVW have confirmed that all promoters taking part in their 2023 event will be required to put the Just Ask steps into action.

There is talent out there not finding a way through

Rich Legate leads Attitude is Everything’s Next Stage initiative which works with the music industry to removes barriers for Deaf and disabled artists. He commented, saying:

“Just Ask is going to be a hugely positive and beneficial collaboration between promoters and artists, which will only enrich our live music landscape.

“Following the results of our survey we know there is talent out there not finding a way through, artists that avoid playing live or do so without confidence or not at the best of their abilities – we need to take the burden away from disabled artists to navigate the industry and show that they are expected and welcomed at all levels.

“It’s really exciting to take the work we’ve done alongside Independent Venue Week promoters and take it to the wider live music industry.”

Sybil Bell, Founder of Independent Venue Week commented on the initiative:

“We’ve worked with Attitude is Everything for a number of years, across various projects and initiatives and are really pleased to be working with them on their Next Stage project.

“We are lucky to work with a fantastic network of in-house and external promoters who have been, and will continue to be, integral in shaping the new guidelines and resources for other promoters, ultimately resulting in a more supportive and inclusive experience for all in the live music community.”

Taking further action

Already using the Access Rider? Tweet us @WeAreTheMU and let us know how you've used it.

Are you a band or artist wanting to grow your fan-base, or an ambitious promoter working with grassroots venues to put on shows? Attitude is Everything have also published a DIY Access Guide.

Join the MU Disabled Musicians Network

Network members receive regular updates on our equalities work via newsletters, as well as the opportunity to contribute to MU consultation responses and take part in surveys.

As a network member there is no obligation for you to respond to emails, although the more you contribute, the more the MU can reflect members’ views.

Join the network here

The next Disabled Members Network meeting is Monday 25 April 12:00 - 1:00 pm. If you would like to attend please contact john.shortell@theMU.org.

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