Jun 3, 2024 2 min read

Independent festivals encouraged to embrace MU’s Access Rider

Festival organisers are being encouraged to embrace the Access Rider developed by the UK’s Musicians’ Union, via which promoters proactively ask about the access requirements of performers. AIF is hosting a webinar explaining how festivals can implement the rider as part of their booking processes

Independent festivals encouraged to embrace MU’s Access Rider

The UK’s Association Of Independent Festivals has formally endorsed the Musicians’ Union Access Rider, which allows artists to clearly set out what access requirements they have whenever they are booked by a promoter. To encourage its members to embrace the MU’s scheme, AIF is holding a webinar for its members this Wednesday to explain how festivals can implement such riders as a standard part of their artist contracting processes. 

The Access Rider was developed by the MU as a response to research which found that performers who identify as having a disability or long-term health condition often don't disclose their access requirements when liaising with promoters because of fears that it will result in less future work.

A 2021 study by Harbourside Artist Management found that 88% of such performers ‘sometimes’ or ‘never’ disclose their impairment or condition, with 69% admitting this had put their health and safety at risk. 

A simple way to address that problem is for event organisers to proactively ask about a performer’s access needs as part of the booking and contracting process, says the MU. To that end, it developed the Access Rider in conjunction with disabled musicians in order to facilitate that process. 

“Some bookers don’t know where to start with those conversations”, explains the MU’s Kelly Wood. “So a universal Access Rider created by musicians with lived experience is the best way to engage artists in conversations about access”. 

“AIF’s endorsement is a major milestone in our work to make the industry a level playing field for all musicians”, she continues. “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”. 

Confirming AIF’s support for the initiative, CEO John Rostron says: “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”. 

The webinar for AIF members takes place this Wednesday at midday and will be led by MU member and Cheltenham Festivals Innovation Manager Andrew Lansley. The rider 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”, says Lansley. 

“It has completely changed how I experience performance”, he continues, “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”. 

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