New survey by Attitude Is Everything reveals the 'hidden barriers' faced by disabled musicians and artists

New survey by Attitude Is Everything reveals the 'hidden barriers' faced by disabled musicians and artists

A new nationwide online survey conducted by music charity Attitude Is Everything has indicated that artists with access requirements and long-term health conditions are encountering career-damaging obstacles when seeking to rehearse, record, perform live, seek funding and access industry events.

According to an official press release, the survey revealed that, “70% [of participants] have withheld details of their condition or impairment due to worries it will cause problems and impact relationships with promoters, venues or festivals. Of those playing live, two in three have compromised their health or wellbeing to perform.”

The respondents represent over 15 different impairment or health condition groups, with mental health conditions (43%) and chronic physical health conditions (41%) being most common. Two in three have more than one impairment or health condition. 


The snapshot of 96 musicians, songwriters, DJs, producers and performers from around the UK also revealed:


  • One in two respondents said they encountered access-related barriers when seeking to rehearse in a studio or space outside of their home..
  • 38% said they cannot access their nearest rehearsal space.
  • 79 have played live shows, of these, one in two are disabled by physical barriers at most gigs. 
  • One in five have had to cancel a show due to physical access issues.  
  • Two in three said they have had to compromise their health or wellbeing to perform live
  • Of the 54 participants that disclosed details, 59% said that their access requirements were ignored or not taken seriously.  
  • 96% think the industry can become more inclusive for musicians and artists with access requirements if they were enabled to become more visible and are given the opportunity to speak out about their experiences.


In response to such issues, Attitude Is Everything launched Next Stage – a new initiative supported by Arts Council England to promote greater inclusivity for artists in the UK’s music industry – in Decemeber 2018. The initiative aims to gain a greater understanding of the challenges facing disabled artists, and ensure they can be supported to reach their full creative potential.

Speaking about the survey, Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO, Attitude Is Everything, said: “These findings provide a snapshot of the challenges faced by a great number of artists and music makers. They will make uncomfortable reading for many in the UK music industry, but our respondents clearly raise some fundamental issues with rehearsing, recording and performing that need to be addressed. Disability cannot be treated as a taboo.  

She continued: “As part of our Next Stage initiative, I look forward to sharing this research with colleagues and partners such as Arts Council England, PRS Foundation, Help Musicians UK, Pirate Studios and Jerwood Arts and building towards our goal of a more diverse and inclusive business.” 


These findings will make uncomfortable reading for many in the UK music industry, but our respondents clearly raise some fundamental issues that need to be addressed

Suzanne Bull, Attitude Is Everything


Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets added :“Making a living from music is tough enough. But for musicians with access requirements, it can be even tougher. In 2019, it is absolutely heartbreaking that so many artists are still encountering barriers and obstacles between them and their audience. This is why Attitude is Everything’s Next Stage initiative is so so important, and why the industry needs to get behind this inspired drive for greater inclusivity.” 

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said: “UK Music is proud to support Attitude is Everything. The work that they do is vital in helping to break down barriers for musicians and artists with disabilities. The Next Stage survey powerfully reminds the industry of the real impact that living with a disability can have on performers. Not all disabilities are visible, which is why it is so important that we create inclusive environments within the music industry.”

According to an official press release, going forward Next Stage will focus on five specific areas:

NEXT STAGE ARTISTS - Creating opportunities for artists to connect with each other and generating platforms for artists to influence the industry and push their music forward.

NEXT STAGE FUNDERS - Forming a new steering group in partnership with Next Stage artists and funders Arts Council England, PRS Foundation, Jerwood Arts and Help Musicians UK to examine barriers and overcome them.

NEXT STAGE SPACES - Collaborating with Pirate Studios to demonstrate best practice in rehearsal and recording spaces and working with partners to ensure industry events are truly open to all.

NEXT STAGE VENUES & FESTIVALS - Working with venues and festivals to promote access for artists and connecting with bookers to promote Next Stage Artists.

NEXT STAGE PROMOTERS - Building upon Attitude is Everything’s DIY Access Guide, creating new guidance and training to support promoters at every level to make their shows as inclusive as possible.

Attitude Is Everything's Suzanne Bull was awarded the Women In Music Campaigner Of The Year Award in 2018. You can read our interview with her here. 



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