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Attitude Is Everything launches new initiative to make the voices of deaf and disabled musicians heard

By | Published on Thursday 13 December 2018

Attitude Is Everything

Accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything has announced a new initiative, called Next Stage, aiming to empower deaf and disabled artists in the music industry.

The charity says that there is currently a lack of knowledge and information about the work and lives of deaf and disabled artists. It aims to bridge that gap with this survey, and is calling for input from all self-identified deaf and disabled musicians, as well as any music makers who have a health condition or impairment that impacts their daily lives.

From there, it is hoped that the findings of this survey can help to improve access to the live music industry for deaf and disabled artists, giving them more opportunity to develop their talents.

“Next Stage is an ambitious departure for Attitude Is Everything”, the charity’s CEO Suzanne Bull explains. “We have spent almost 20 years working for disabled audiences and now, with support from Arts Council England, we want to improve accessibility for disabled artists”.

“This process will not be easy”, she admits. “The challenges facing deaf and disabled people are often hidden, and rarely discussed publicly. There are a range of stigmas and sensibilities. So our first goal is to collect information through a comprehensive and wide-reaching survey. By paying attention to artists’ voices, I believe we can build a thriving network of talent that will enhance British music and benefit all in the wider music community”.

AIE patron and Mystery Jets frontman Blane Harrison adds: “Since we started out playing shows there has been a huge shift in the music industry’s attitude towards deaf and disabled audiences. It’s been so inspiring to see live-signing catching on at gigs and festivals, not to mention how popular viewing platforms have become. And when you’re up there it’s not hard to see why. The atmosphere is one of shared joy; reminding us that the live music experience is one we can all participate in”.

However, he goes on, “backstage, it’s often another story. Dressing rooms can be tucked away up steep flights of stairs in the eaves of the building; if there are lifts they are often made for hauling heavy equipment and not safe to ride in unattended. For artists requiring some alone time to mentally prepare for the pressures of a performance, the back of the van in the car park can sometimes be the closest thing to a safe space”.

“In much the same way that the conversation around mental health has opened up, hearing the experiences and voices of disabled artists will hugely diversify and enrich the music industry of tomorrow”, he concludes. “Now is the time for the Paralympians of the arts to be given the platform they deserve”.

You can fill out the survey here.

The initial findings of the research will be presented during the TGE Conference at next year’s Great Escape as part of the Partner Panels programme that sits alongside the three CMU+TGE conferences that take place in Brighton each May.

The AIE research launch is one of a number of additions to the TGE 2019 programme announced today, alongside the news that Lewis Capaldi will return to play a Spotlight Show at the Brighton Dome and confirmation that the Association Of Independent Music will again run AIM House at the Queens Hotel.

There is more information about the CMU+TGE conferences planned for 2019 here.