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Disabled Artists Survey: what did we learn?

How easy is it for disabled musicians to do their job? The Musicians’ Union and Attitude is Everything investigate.

From Beethoven to Blaine Harrison, disabled musicians have long had a lasting impact upon the musical landscape.

So this Disability History Month, the Musicians’ Union and Attitude is Everything asked the question ‘just how easy is it for them to do their job?’ Here’s what we found…

The majority of disabled musicians have lost work due to lack of access

  • ‘It’s difficult to know how much work I lose because I have stopped approaching venues I don’t know due to having to explain my access needs.’
  • ‘I have lost 5-10% of bookings in the past year because I use a wheelchair.’
  • ‘I have to turn down gigs because of access limitations.’

Being able to get into the performance space is the minimum

Many respondents identified stages which are only accessible via climbing on to (either straight on or via stairs) the stage as a major issue, including those who do not require wheelchairs. One respondent further noted the problems accessing orchestra pits, which are similarly often only accessible via stairs.

  • ‘Getting into the venue and onto the stage are the two most common barriers.’
  • ‘So few stages have wheelchair access that I usually perform at floor level in front of the stage’

Many toilets are used as store rooms

Accessible toilets backstage are rare, but when they are present they often ‘double up’ as store rooms, meaning disabled people are often caught short, especially wheelchair users whose power chairs cannot manoeuvre in a room already filled to the brim.

  • ‘It’s very humiliating having to go outside for a pee.’
  • ‘Don’t use your disabled toilet as a storeroom please.’

This is just the beginning

These are just some of the results. Read more over at Attitude Is Everything.

Attitude is Everything and Musicians’ Union are planning to follow up with respondents to find out what can be done to increase opportunities for disabled musicians. Specifically we want to look into artists’ rights when their access requirements aren’t met when offered performances. If you’re interested in taking part, please contact graham@attitudeiseverything.org.uk.

Find out more about the MU’s Equalities work and get involved.


Published: 16/12/2015
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