We caught up with Natalie South, Charter Manager at Attitude is Everything, to hear more about the charity, the impact of COVID-19 on accessibility, and how their training can benefit promoters, venues and artists.

On the 15th September, we’ll be running our final Disability and Equality Training session of the year. This will be JPN members’ last chance to attend this industry-leading course.

Attitude is Everything was founded as a pilot scheme in 2000 by Suzanne Bull MBE. A massive music fan, Suzanne had enough of the lack of access at venues and festivals and was determined to do something about it.

The organisation was launched to help improve accessibility for deaf and disabled people and make live music something that can be enjoyed by all. 

“Our vision is a future where music and event industries include Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people as audience members, performers, employees and volunteers,” Natalie says. “Our mission is to connect Deaf and disabled people with music and event industries to improve access together.”

Over the past 21 years, Attitude is Everything has seen massive improvements to access, with over 200 venues and festivals signing its Charter of Best Practice. 

The charity has also delivered 350 Disability Equality Training sessions to around 5,500 people, from major festivals like Glastonbury to venues including The O2, Manchester Arena, Band on The Wall and The Roundhouse and other events teams including Tottenham Hotspur FC, PRS Foundation and the BBC Events Team. 

Although big steps have been made, more still needs to be done to make events accessible to a wider audience. According to Natalie, venues, festivals and promoters can start with some very simple, low-cost solutions like providing clear online information. 

Examples of these solutions will be explored in the training session for JPN members on the 15th September. The course will be led by Natalie South who has over five years of experience working in the charity sector and extensive knowledge of achieving accessibility in compact spaces with limited budgets.

How COVID-19 has impacted accessibility

COVID-19 has had a major impact on the work that Attitude is Everything. The charity has found that many access staff across the country have either been furloughed or lost their jobs entirely. 

“Deaf and disabled audiences are unconfident that they will be safe returning to gigs and festivals,” Natalie says. “There is also a concern that online streaming options, which have been a lifeline for so many people, will either disappear or become the only accessible option. 

“We would say to promoters and venues that online streaming should not be a replacement for on the ground accessibility. However, we have been really heartened to see venues taking the time during the pandemic to work on their access provision, with some attaining Silver level on our Charter of Best Practice in 2021.”

Moving forward

A primary focus now for Attitude is Everything is encouraging deaf and disabled audiences to return to live events and supporting venues and festivals to make this possible. 

In August, the charity released the results from an online survey of 289 individuals. The ‘Returning to Live Events’ snapshot found that 43% of respondents didn’t see how a live venue could be a safe environment for them at the time they completed the survey, with 24% fearing that they won’t be able to get to an event until next year. 

However, in 2019 the 132 shielders who completed the survey said they went to a total of 2347 indoor events (an average of 17 per person) and 560 outdoor events (an average of four per person). 

“It shows that there is still a real demand for live events from our audience, but safety is paramount,” Natalie adds. “We are working with partners to ensure that the safety measures they put in place are accessible.”

Disability and Equality Training: Laying the foundations for an accessible event or venue

Attitude is Everything’s Disability and Equality Training is an excellent introduction to the key concepts of access for deaf and disabled customers across the music and live events industries. 

For any JPN members who haven’t already attended the training, we can highly recommend blocking out three hours of your afternoon on Wednesday 15th September.

Completing the course will give you access to two additional training sessions that will explore accessible communication and relaxed performances in greater depth.

Not already a member? Now’s a great time to come on board! We have three lots of accessibility training sessions coming up along with another course of training (TBA) in October. This will be followed by the JPN annual conference in November at EFG London Jazz Festival on the 19th & 20th November.

“Our training sessions help improve venue confidence when talking with and assisting deaf and disabled customers, covering a wide range of topics such as disability in the UK today, language and terminology and models of disability,” Natalie says.

“These sessions also invite attendees from a wide range of organisations to meet and discuss issues they may face in implementing access, and how those issues can be resolved.”

Sign up for the Disability Equality Training today

Sign up for the training session here. Members: an access code has been sent to your inbox. If you can’t find it please email comms@jazzpromotionnetwork.org.uk

“It’s been great to have such positive engagement with JPN and I’ve really enjoyed sessions we’ve run in the past,” Natalie adds. “I’m looking forward to meeting more of the network and finding out ways we can help them in ensuring they are accessible for everyone.”

attitude is everything disability and equality training