As part of our commitment to drive up accessibility to live music and support the growth of businesses within the music industry supply chain in the region, Generator commissioned research with Attitude is Everything to identify the barriers facing people with disabilities to getting on in the music business in the region, as well as to the live music scene across the NE on the whole.
Looking at experiences of people with disabilities working in the industry, the research identified the importance of facilitating ‘cross-over’ between the ‘disability-led’ music scene into the mainstream music sector.
Drawing on information from focus groups, online surveys, and private interviews, the final report ‘Live Music and Disability in the North East’ published an Action Plan for the NE, including small venue outreach initiatives, promoting the availability of disability equality training for businesses within the music industry, and promotion of industry career accessible development opportunities through internships, work experience and volunteering opportunities (such as with venue and festival partners).
In addition, the report looked at the importance of businesses being part of professional networks, and supporting active artists currently and in the future to break down the barriers to careers in the music industry faced by professionals and would-be professionals with disabilities.
The report also identified examples of excellent practice within the region in terms of business development, artistic development opportunities and accessibility for audiences to widen customer bases. Pop Recs Ltd is no stranger to Generator – having benefited from business advice provided through our ‘Music Futures’ ERDF funded programme.
Independent Record Shop, Venue, Cafe – Sunderland
Flexibility of traditional/stereotypical live music set-up
Pop Recs is a popular accessible music venue, record shop and cafe and gallery in Sunderland city centre. The space was originally set up as a temporary ‘pop-up’ space by Sunderland band Frankie & The Heartstrings, however it was so popular it stayed open for two years and became a cultural hub in the music community, staffed by the band and other local musicians. Although the space was physically accessible already, the staff offered a rare standard of disability services amongst record shops (including assisting deaf customers with BSL) due to the personal expertise and sensitivity of the staff (acquired through personal and professional experience working in disability services).
Pop Recs also offered a range of high-quality live music events, (including James Bay, Tim Burgess, Franz Ferdinand, Futureheads, Maximo Park & The Vaccines) and comfortably welcomed disabled performers such as Edwyn Collins to the space. Events were held earlier in the day to avoid late night finishes, and offered well-lit, easily negotiable live music environments with flexible seating and a reduced focus on alcohol. Issues such as limited public transport, childcare, support shifts etc were less of any issue and helped support a range of music fans otherwise excluded from or reluctant to attend live music events locally.
Chase Park Festival is supported by Generator through the provision of pre-event industry-specific festival masterclasses:
CHASE PARK FESTIVAL,
Outdoor Music Festival, Whickham
Breaking barriers between disability-led & music-led scenes
Chase Park Festival is an important date in the calendar for disabled music fans, disability groups, independent promoters and musicians in the NE music industry.
As the event’s organisers come from both a live music and specialist care background, the event was developed with disability as a core consideration, not a secondary concern; accessibility for a range of disabilities are provided for, transport and timings are considered with an early finish to allow sufficient time to travel home etc, marketing is directed across a range of media with a substantial lead-time to allow information to filter through to people not ‘networked’ in the live music or disability scenes, and the event is affordably priced for all.
The event is not exclusive to disabled or non-disabled audiences but casually welcomes and provides for both, offering the opportunity for disabled and non-disabled performers and audiences to work together in the same milieu.