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‘Just Ask’ campaign launched for promoters 

Live music charity Attitude is Everything and Independent Venue Week (IVW) have come together to launch a new guidance and training programme to help live promoters increase accessibility, and enable deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent to shine on the live circuit.

An Attitude is Everything survey in 2019 found that some 70% of artists had withheld information on a health condition or impairment.

The main reason cited was worry around causing problems and impacting a relationship with a promoter, venue or festival. The survey found that two in three performers have compromised their health or wellbeing to perform live at an event.

Attitude is Everything is asking promoters at all levels across the music industry to join the ‘Just Ask’ campaign, which aims to ensure all artists and their crew are given the opportunity to share any access requirements ahead of performance.

The question to ask is: “Do you or any of your crew members have access requirements?”

A group of 20 promoters took part in the ‘Just Ask’ pilot, which was launched in advance of Independent Venue Week 2022 this week. The promoters took part in a training session and utilised a ‘Just Ask’ guide to take steps to properly engage with artists.

Joint artist ambassadors for Attitude is Everything’s Next Stage initiative, which aims to remove the barriers faced by deaf and disabled artists, and UK trade body Featured Artists Coalition, welcomed the ‘Just Ask’ guidance.

Ruth Lyon, a solo artist and singer of band Holy Moly & the Crackers, said: “Asking about access requirements for artists and crew should be as simple as asking for dietary requirements and common practice. This will have a positive impact on artists and encourage a more inclusive atmosphere for everyone in the music industry.”

Ali Hirsz, from the band Idealistics, said: “Disabled artists are often left to fend for themselves without the right support from venues and promoters. By coming together and learning from each other, we can make sure that all talent gets the chance to shine in the live music industry.”

Artist Benny Bizzie added: ““I look forward to a time where meeting access needs is standard practice. Deaf and disabled people will then feel included, valued, and lead happier creative lives.”

Promoters are able to book free training sessions, with the first taking place on February 14. The ‘Just Ask’ guidance is also available to download.

Rich Legate, who runs the Next Stage initiative, said: “Just Ask is going to be a hugely positive and beneficial collaboration between promoters and artists, which will only enrich our live music landscape. Following the results of our survey we know there is talent out there not finding a way through, artists that avoid playing live or do so without confidence or not at the best of their abilities – we need to take the burden away from disabled artists to navigate the industry and show that they are expected and welcomed at all levels.

“It’s really exciting to take the work we’ve done alongside Independent Venue Week promoters and take it to the wider live music industry.”

Sybil Bell, founder of Independent Venue Week, added: “We’ve worked with Attitude is Everything for a number of years, across various projects and initiatives and are really pleased to be working with them on their Next Stage project.

“We are lucky to work with a fantastic network of in-house and external promoters who have been, and will continue to be, integral in shaping the new guidelines and resources for other promoters, ultimately resulting in a more supportive and inclusive experience for all in the live music community.”

Image: Cody Board on Unsplash