Disabled musicians are being 'failed by venues'

Posted in 10 May 2019

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Last year, Ruth Patterson's band Holy Moly and the Crackers tried to book a tour of the UK. But one venue wrote back, refusing to host them because Patterson, who has arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, uses a wheelchair.

"They said they wouldn't book us because I was a fire hazard," she says. "That's absolutely horrendous." The singer is not alone. A new survey suggests disabled musicians face significant barriers in UK venues.

Of the nearly 100 deaf and disabled performers surveyed by Attitude Is Everything, two-thirds said they had to "compromise their health or wellbeing" in order to play live.

Twenty per cent said they had been forced to cancel gigs altogether due to a lack of access. One musician, writing anonymously, said: "I would never perform if I did not force myself up and down more flights of stairs in one night than I would comfortably navigate in one night."

Another said: "One of my bandmates has epilepsy and gets often ignored when asking organisers not to use strobe or flashing light." DJ Laura Jones, who is visually impaired, said her requests for "bright white light sources" were often ignored, because "it's difficult for people to know what my problem is unless they see me walking into a wall".