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Attitude Is Everything calls for reviving live sector to keep accessibility a priority

By | Published on Thursday 19 August 2021

Attitude Is Everything

Accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything has surveyed a network of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent music fans about the lifting of COVID regulations in the UK and the return of full capacity concerts and events. Respondents were eager to return to venues and shows, but expressed a number of concerns about accessibility and safety, with an eagerness for online options to remain in place until such concerns are addressed or subside.

AIE says that the 289 people it surveyed together attended more than 5000 indoor and 1200 outdoor events in 2019, including gigs, festivals, football matches and book launches. As live events return, 35% of respondents have tickets booked for upcoming indoor shows, while 48% are hoping to attend indoor live entertainment again before the end of the year.

However, while 50% said they would now be comfortable attending indoor events, that is based on any one event having as many accessible measures as possible in place to increase safety, and those measures being clearly communicated before the show.

And with 67% of respondents considering themselves to be at heightened risk if they were to contract COVID, 42% said they didn’t see how a live venue could be a safe environment for them at the time they completed the survey. 24% added that they don’t expect to be able to attend an indoor live event until next year at the earliest.

Based on these findings, AIE is making a number of recommendations to the live sector. “The results underscore the crucial need for event organisers to ensure that access and COVID-safety measures are at the forefront of reopening plans”, it says.

“To help with this transition, Attitude Is Everything have developed a number of online resources and a Charter framework to remove barriers returning audiences might face”, it adds. “Following the survey, Attitude Is Everything calls on event organisers to check their [current] COVID-safety information and practices against this list of reopening measures supported by respondents”.

For those still unable to attend live shows until the general risk of COVID infection has subsided, AIE suggests keeping any livestreaming activity begun during the pandemic in place.

It notes that “96% of all respondents said it is important that venues and events engage with disabled people who don’t feel safe to return just yet, with 78% thinking venues and events should maintain online streaming as an option”.

Respondents were also asked about the somewhat controversial topic of requiring attendees to events to show a COVID pass that confirms either vaccination or a negative COVID test result.

“83% said they would attend a venue or event that requires the NHS COVID Pass to gain entry”, the survey reveals, “with 67% stating they would actively choose a venue that requires an NHS COVID Pass to gain entry over one that doesn’t”.

Commenting on the survey, AIE founder Suzanne Bull MBE says: “In 2019, disabled people were big consumers of live events. In fact, in the years before the pandemic, the economic spend from disabled people attending live music grew from £3.4 million in 2013 to £9.3 million in 2019, so there was always going to be a huge demand from the disabled community to return to live events”.

“Understandably, disabled people have real and deep-seated fears about how safe live events will be after the pandemic. I urge the live events sector to address concerns and make demonstratable efforts to welcome those with access requirements back to their venues and events, and for artists to become actively involved in this welcome.

“Over the past eighteen months”, she adds, “disabled people have been loyal in donating to venues and campaigns to support musicians, and bought music, art and books to help creatives to sustain themselves. So more than ever before, it’s time to recognise that the disabled community are part of the life-blood of culture in the UK”.