Suzanne Bull, MBE: Music, The Arts & Disabled People

09 Jul 2013

Credits: @flickblu_j

On 15th June 2013, much to my surprise, I was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to music, the arts and disabled people.

The idea behind ‘Attitude is Everything’ might have been simple, but my instinct was that it would transform the lives of many people.

I have always been a disabled person and loved live music.   In the mid ‘90s I was at a festival and in those days, there was no access.  In struggling to keep my front row place facing the stage, I got my neck trapped on the barrier.  My thoughts were to get out alive and find a way of making live music accessible!  I began to document the experiences of other disabled people at festivals and venues, whilst at the same time, interviewing the music industry to find out why they were not providing services to their disabled customers.  It turned out that the industry did not understand what their obligations were under the Disability Discrimination Act (now the Equality Act) and what they needed was practical guidance.

Thanks to an initial funding from Arts Council England and the DfEE’s See the Person Campaign, I set up Attitude is Everything in 2000 with a steering group of live music and disability arts professionals.   It challenged the music industry to improve their access to Deaf and disabled people.  13 years later, over 70 venues and festivals have signed up to our Charter of Best Practice, thousands have trained in disability equality and there has been a huge increase in the numbers of deaf and disabled people accessing live music.

Despite significant improvements, there is still plenty left to achieve.  Working partnership is the key to success, and there are a variety of ways to get involved.  Festival promoters and music venue managers can sign up our Charter of Best Practice to get some practical advice – it’s free!  Artists can pledge their support by being photographed with the charter poster and a statement about why access is necessary.  Companies and individuals can contribute to the long-lasting impact of our charitable work by donating to us or volunteering their skills.

My ultimate goal is for deaf and disabled people to be able to attend, work or perform at any live music event.  It’s a utopian view but this is genuinely because I don’t understand why there should be any barriers to this.

For more information, please visit www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk

Suzanne Bull MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Attitude is Everything.

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