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We've Launched a Disabled Musicians Membership

We launched our new Disabled Musicians Membership this week, with the intention of recruiting, retaining and helping to level the playing field for disabled musicians.

Published: 16 April 2021 | 12:42 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
A young woman with Downs sydrome is leaning against a pillar at an underground station, listening to music.
Extra costs mean that some disabled people have less money and less access to services, like MU membership, even when they earn the same. Photo credit: Shutterstock

This move comes due both to a motion that was passed at the MU Conference in 2019, and because there are many reasons why a reduced membership rate would help recruit, retain and level the playing field for disabled musicians.

Research has shown that life costs more for disabled people. Expensive equipment, higher energy bills, and increased travel costs mean that disabled people’s lives are more expensive than non-disabled people’s.

These extra costs mean that some disabled people have less money and less access to services, like MU membership, even when they earn the same. This is just one example of the financial inequality that some disabled musicians face.

Disabled people face significant barriers

Research from Disability Rights UK and SCOPE show that:

  • Nearly half of people in the UK living in poverty are disabled people or live with a disabled person
  • On average disabled adults face extra costs of £583 per month
  • Disabled people tend to earn less than their non-disabled counterparts
  • A disabled adult’s extra costs are equivalent to almost half of their income
  • £100 for a non-disabled adult is equivalent to just £68 for a disabled person

Disabled people face significant barriers to pursuing a career as a musician. Their careers can be limited by reduced access to tuition, work opportunities, and funding, and they may incur extra costs and have less opportunities for work specifically because they are disabled.

Youth Music’s report, Reshape Music: A report exploring the lived experience of disabled musicians in education and beyond found that 67% of disabled music makers said that financial reasons were a severe or moderate access barrier to music making.

These additional costs could include:

  • Having to pay more to find accessible studios/rehearsal spaces
  • Not being booked/not able to perform due to inaccessible spaces
  • Increased costs of travel and assistance
  • Increased cost of adapted equipment

Recognising the social model of disability

The Disabled Musicians Membership rate will alleviate some of the extra financial pressure that can come with being disabled.

The Disabled Musicians Membership has been developed in consultation with our disabled members, recognising the social model of disability.

Not everyone who identifies as disabled or has an impairment or condition will need to access the Disabled Musicians Membership. Some disabled musicians will not face any financial barriers to MU membership related to disability.

Some disabled musicians will face financial barriers to MU membership specifically because they are disabled. This rate is for those groups of musicians. If you’re an existing MU member who is eligible for the Disabled Musicians Membership, you’ll be able to transfer to the new rate at your renewal.

You can find out more details about the membership and if you’re eligible on our website.

Disabled Members Network

Did you know we have a Disabled Members Network? As a member-led organisation, the MU often asks for members' opinions on a whole range of topics to ensure that our work represents your views. Our Disabled Members Network is an important part of this process.

You can find out more about our equalities networks and join any that are relevant to you on our website.

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