Accessibility groups form alliance, pen letter of support to cultural sector

Accessibility groups form alliance, pen letter of support to cultural sector

A dozen audience accessibility organisations and networks have come together as the Audience Access Alliance (AAA) alongside two government sector champions.

The coalition, which includes music charity Attitude Is Everything, marks the 10th anniversary of the Equalities Act. AAA has added its backing to the #WeMakeEvents campaign, and its urgent call for the UK government to support the events sector.

The need for cross-sector collaboration and conversation has never felt more vital

Jacob Adams, Attitude Is Everything

Jacob Adams, Attitude Is Everything's head of campaigns, said: “We are delighted to be joined by like-minded colleagues in forging this unprecedented Audience Access Alliance, extending a message of solidarity to the sectors we are proud to support.

"The need for cross-sector collaboration and conversation has never felt more vital, with unprecedented pressures on the industries we support, and so many parallels regarding the conversations we are having to support accessible reopening. Collectively, we champion the importance of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences to the UK economy, and the role they can play in aiding the industries they love in the months and years ahead.”

Its first act is an open letter of support and solidarity to partners across the cultural, sports, heritage and tourism sectors, celebrating the progress that had been made prior to Covid-19, and advocating for continued collaboration to drive forward an inclusive recovery and further positive change for millions of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.

Instigated by Attitude Is Everything, the letter is signed by Disability Collaborative Network, Euan's Guide, Hynt, The Access Card, Performance Interpreting Inc, Shape Arts, Signed Culture, Stagetext, Stay Up Late, Transport For All and VocalEyes. Additional signatories are Andrew Miller, UK Disability Champion for Arts and Culture, and Heather Smith, UK Disability Champion for Countryside & Heritage. 

Participation by disabled people across the cultural and creative sectors has increased significantly since the Equalities Act came into force. In 2019/20, 76% of Deaf and disabled people engaged with the arts (vs 77% of non-disabled people), closing the estimated 9% gap in engagement recorded in 2008/09. Deaf and disabled people made up 12% of Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation audiences in 2018/19. The total spending power of families including at least one disabled person is estimated at £274 billion a year. 

Andrew Miller, UK government disability champion for arts & culture said, “Disabled people’s continued participation in live events and culture has been severely threatened by this pandemic. So I fully endorse the Audience Access Alliance call to the industry to Build Back Better and ensure that essential access is not only maintained but enhanced, making the recovery fully inclusive of disabled audiences in all settings."

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