Meet Attitude is everything : the UK organization that stands for accessibility for all
By disabled people, for disabled people
Attitude is Everything’s work began in May 2000 as a one-year pilot project. Funded by Arts Council England and the UK Government’s Education Department this project was a response to a series of articles our CEO Suzanne had written in the UK press about the significant barriers disabled music fans experienced at gigs and festivals. A small steering group was formed, followed by the Charter of Best Practice for venues and festivals. This became the framework we use for supporting venues and events to become accessible.
All our work is underpinned by the Social Model of Disability, a model created by disabled people, for disabled people. It states that disability is the experience of barriers, rather than impairment. This could be a physical barrier, such as a venue only being accessed by stairs, or these barriers could be people’s attitudes to difference, like assuming disabled people cannot do certain things. The social model looks to removing these barriers, which results in education, employment, social events become more accessible to more people.
It states that disability is the experience of barriers, rather than impairment. This could be a physical barrier, such as a venue only being accessed by stairs, or these barriers could be people’s attitudes to difference, like assuming disabled people cannot do certain things.
Supportive friend to the industry
From the very beginning our ethos has been that we are a supportive friend to the industry, and we are an interface between the industry and Deaf and disabled people. After the first year, the demand for change from Deaf and disabled people, along with calls for our help from the music industry, grew significantly, which lead to the programme continuing. In April 2008, we became our own charitable organisation and received regular 4-year funding from Arts Council England for the first time. We are now an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation, and in 2021 we are celebrating our 21st anniversary.
Our Charter of Best Practice is a framework for venues and festivals to work towards being as accessible as possible. We have developed four Charter frameworks: Venues, Festivals, Grassroots Venues and Multi Venue Festivals. The award is over 3 levels – Bronze Silver and Gold. We work with each individual venue and festival to assist them in creating an action plan to work through each level of the Charter and aim for the Gold award by demonstrating an ongoing commitment to improving accessibility.
Accessibility for fans and for musicians
Alongside the Charter of Best Practice, we created our Mystery Shopping programme to support Deaf and disabled music fans attending gigs and festivals. The work our mystery shoppers do helps us identify trends in access to live music across the UK; they report back on the accessibility and overall experience at UK music venues, clubs, and festivals, in return for free tickets and travel. This is vital in identifying strengths and areas for improvement. The detailed feedback on accessibility is then passed onto the venue or festival management team, with any potential barriers identified and practical solutions suggested. We now have hundreds of mystery shoppers around the country who support our work.
The last couple of years has seen us look to other ways we can support the industry in becoming accessible for all. In 2019, we introduced our Next Stage initiative, an innovative artist development project aiming to make the music industry more accessible for artists with access requirements. In August 2020 we launched our Beyond the Music initiative, funded by the National Lottery Community Foundation. This initiative is designed to improve access to employment and volunteering opportunities in the music and live events industries for Deaf and disabled people. We launched the project with our new Professionals’ Network and Survey, designed to find out as much as possible about the barriers Deaf and disabled professionals and volunteers face. You can find out more information on this project under the Professionals section on our website.
Another aspect of our work is our research, which enables us to produce several guides on different topics, from online access information to online streaming guidance. One of the guides we have created is our DIY Access Guide. We have found that the smallest of changes can make the biggest impact when it comes to accessibility, and this resource is full of top tip’ lists and easy to follow ‘gig hacks’ to help any band, artist or promoter link up with a venue to make a gig as accessible as possible, even if a stage is up or down a flight of stairs. Our message is simple: everyone can do something to make their event more accessible!
Natalie South, Grassroots Venues Manager,. Attitude is Everything