New research reveals concerns of disabled music fans returning to gigs

The recent poll was carried out by Attitude Is Everything

New research conducted by Attitude Is Everything has found that 50 per cent of disabled music fans were eager to return to full capacity live shows after COVID restrictions were lifted.

The disability-led charity, which has been working towards accessibility in the live industry for over 20 years, carried out an online survey that polled 289 people between July 19 and August 1.

As per the report, 74 per cent of participants – who all had a history of attending live events – require additional access including companion tickets, accessible seating, step-free access and accessible toilets at shows.

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Half of those who took part said they were comfortable attending an indoor gig as long as sufficient accessibility measures had been put in place at the venue in order to increase safety.

Additionally, 35 per cent of those polled had booked tickets for an upcoming indoor live event, with 48 per cent planning to attend an indoor live show of some kind by the end of 2021.

Attitude Is Everything founder Suzanne Bull MBE said (via Music Week): “In 2019, disabled people were big consumers of live events. In fact, in the years before the pandemic, the economic spend from disabled people attending live music grew from £3.4million in 2013 to £9.3m in 2019, so there was always going to be a huge demand from the disabled community to return to live events.”

However, she went on to acknowledge that disabled live music fans have “real and deep-seated fears” about the safety of live events post-lockdown.

“I urge the live events sector to address concerns and make demonstratable efforts to welcome those with access requirements back to their venues and events, and for artists to become actively involved in this welcome,” she said.

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Those surveyed largely agreed, with 96 per cent saying it is important for organisers and venues to engage with disabled fans who may have concerns about returning to these environments.

Elsewhere, the findings revealed that 42 per cent of respondents were unable to see how a live venue could be deemed a safe space for them to visit. Meanwhile, 24 per cent said they feel they won’t be able to attend an indoor event until 2022 at the earliest.

festival crowd
The crowd at Latitude Festival 2021 at Henham Park on July 25, 2021 in Southwold. CREDIT: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

As for outdoor events, at which people are far less likely to contract COVID, a total of 73 per cent of participants said that they would feel more comfortable in this environment – should mitigation measures be put in place.

Live shows that have taken place since the lifting of all social restrictions (on July 19 in England) have required ticketholders to provide proof of double vaccination, natural immunity or a negative test (taken prior to attending).

Attitude Is Everything found that 83 per cent of those surveyed would be in favour of venues requesting the NHS COVID Pass in order to attend its events. It was revealed that 67 per cent would actively choose a venue that asks for the pass rather than one that doesn’t.

You can find the full results of AIE’s snapshot poll here.

Jacob Adams, Head of Research and Campaigns at Attitude Is Everything, told NME last summer that “normal wasn’t good enough in the industry” pre-COVID.

“Another thing we’re concerned about is the general risk of attitudes shifting in relation to disability generally,” he explained. “You’ll see the narrative around COVID-19 is all about vulnerability, and there are deep, deep concerns in disability activist communities about disabled people being reduced to being seen as vulnerable people. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.”

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