Ticketing Without Barriers

New music business coalition aims to improve access booking and accessible ticketing for Deaf and disabled audiences

Black text on a bright yellow banner saying 'State of Access Report 2018: Ticketing Without Barriers'
  • Attitude is Everything to coordinate new initiative, bringing together the UK’s leading ticketing agencies, promoters, event organisers, venues and trade bodies.
  • The music charity’s fourth State of Access Report, published today, highlights 5 key areas to improve the experience of Deaf and disabled music fans when booking tickets.
  • Report also includes an extensive survey of Deaf and disabled fans - highlighting the recurring challenges they face when purchasing tickets for live music events.

Leading music charity Attitude is Everything will today publish their fourth State of Access Report at London’s world famous Roundhouse, and launch the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition - a new pan-industry taskforce aiming to address 5 key areas that will improve the experience for Deaf and disabled audiences when booking tickets for live music events.  

The report (download here), also includes the results of the charity’s Access Booking Survey and the combined voice of hundreds of Deaf and disabled gig-goers. 

Over 80% of those questioned said they had experienced problems when booking tickets to live music events. A similar number said they had been put off buying tickets due to non-accessible booking systems, and over 70% stated they had felt discriminated against. And while 37% felt that access booking had improved over the past four years, 1 in 10 had considered legal action. 

The research also highlights the strong affinity that disabled audiences have with live music, and their contribution to the UK music business - with the 349 fans surveyed attending an average of 9 gigs or concerts in the past year, and spending an estimated £250,000 on tickets, food, drink and merchandise. According to Government data, an estimated 3.3m disabled adults attend at least one live music event each year. 

Adding to the charity’s 18-years experience of working with event organisers, the report, which is supported by UK Music and PRS for Music, also spotlights innovative and inspirational music businesses who are blazing a trail with access provision. 

From these collective findings, Attitude is Everything have identified five key areas where comprehensive and targeted action will result in greater inclusion at live music events, and enable event organisers to better serve their disabled customers. 

These are:

1. A simple and universal system for evidencing access requirements
Fans need a single proof-of-disability system that is uniformly recognised and accepted across the UK, and a single evidence policy adopted by the whole music industry.

2. Accurate and disability-aware information and customer service
Fans need all venues and events to provide quality access information online, including uni-form terminology for access booking and Disability Awareness and Inclusive Communication Training for all frontline sales staff.

3. Choice and flexibility when booking tickets
Fans need to be able to book key access provisions online. Access booking systems should integrate online, email and telephone processes, and be flexible enough to incorporate whole party booking. 

4. To be able to trust that access requirements will be met
Fans need access bookings to be managed in-house where possible, to be dealt with by dedicated staff contactable by phone and email, and for access bookings to go live as soon as tickets go on sale.

5. Equal access to everything
Fans need to be able to book access for pre-sales, VIP and artist meet-up tickets, and with entertainment gift cards, as well as the ability to resell of accessible seating. Access booking lines need to use free-phone numbers. PA tickets need to be bookable by any Deaf or disabled person who requires one. Fans need pre-registration systems to better manage antici-pated ‘sell out’ sales. 

In order to deliver these changes, Attitude is Everything is delighted to announce the formation of the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition. 

Comprising more than 35 trade bodies, leading ticketing agencies, event promoters and venues, the new pan-industry group will meet imminently at UK Music to establish a programme of delivery, before updating on progress at the Ticketing Professionals Conference in March 2019.

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With our fourth State of Access Report we wanted to return to probably the single-most important issue that impacts all Deaf and disabled music fans - the process of booking tickets. Although there has been much progress in making the ticketing process accessible and inclusive, and certain venues and companies are definitely getting this right for their Deaf and disabled customers, we felt that only a comprehensive and truly unified approach would be able to drive through the real and lasting changes that we need.

In 2018, every large-scale music event should be all-inclusive. Disabled customers should be able to buy a ticket online, they should be encouraged to attend shows with their friends, and not  have to jump through undignified hoops when things go wrong. As a disabled music fan myself, I’d urge ticket sellers, venues and festivals to understand that all disabled people must  enjoy the same experiences as any other fan. The wider music business has the power to fix this, and I’ve been delighted at the response from all who’ve agreed to join the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition. It feels that everyone’s on the same page, up for the challenge and committed to working towards a positive result on this. We now look forward to getting to work, and delivering some results.

Suzanne Bull MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Attitude is Everything and Disability Sector Champion for Music
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Going to a gig or festival is an experience that everyone should be able to enjoy. It’s therefore incredibly important that disabled people have the right access when booking tickets for live music events, which is why I’m really pleased to see leading businesses from across the music industry coming together to im-prove accessibility.
 
“We know that disabled people and their households have a combined spending power of £249 billion a year, proving that being inclusive isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”

Sarah Newton Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton
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UK Music is committed to working with Attitude is Everything and being a part of their continuing mission to make live music accessible to all. We are proud to have supported the publication of this report and en-courage the whole of the live music industry to follow those who have already played their part in making sure their venues and events are open to everyone. We should not rest until we can ensure equal access for everyone.

Michael Dugher, Chief Executive, UK Music
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We strongly support the continuing work of Attitude is Everything and the State of Access Reports, which look to improve music experiences for Deaf and disabled audiences. The accessibility of music is important to all of us at PRS for Music, including our members, and we look forward to further opportunities being made for Deaf and disabled music fans in the live sector.

PRS for Music CEO, Robert Ashcroft
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In response to the 2014 State of Access Report, STAR formed its Accessible Ticketing Group to discuss obstacles and solutions to improving ticketing for disabled people. These discussions with ticket agents, systems providers, venues and promoters have helped promote change and led to the publication of our Accessible Ticketing Guide in 2017. There is still much to be done and we therefore welcome the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition to help bring about further significant and necessary improvements.

Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive, Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers
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At Arts Council England we are extremely proud to have supported the work of Attitude is Everything since their inception 18 years ago and we enthusiastically support the publication of the 4th State of Access Report. Attitude is Everything’s support for audiences, artists and the sector continues to play an essential role in helping us deliver our mission of Great Art and Culture for Everyone, and I am delighted we were recently able to re-confirm our com-mitment to this important work through a significantly increased grant for the period 2018 to 2022.

Huey Walker, Senior Relationship Manager, Music, Arts Council England
 

About Attitude is Everything 

  • More than 150 venues and festivals have committed to improve their access facilities by signing up to Atti-tude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice.  Last year, ticket sales at Charter venues and festivals in-creased by over 26% - contributing some £8m to the music economy. 
  • In July 2017, the UK Live Music Group, the body that sits within UK Music to represent views of Britain’s live music industry, gave official backing to the Charter of Best Practice.
  • In February 2017, Attitude is Everything CEO, Suzanne Bull MBE, was named by Government as Disability Champion for the Music Industry. In November 2017, Suzanne was inducted into Music Week’s Women In Music Roll of Honour. 
  • More than 13.3m Deaf and disabled people live in the UK. Last year, 3.3m disabled adults attended a live music event. 
  • Attitude is Everything's patrons include Amadou & Mariam, Robert Wyatt and Blaine Harrison. 

Attitude is Everything improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with au-diences, artists and the music industry to implement a Charter of Best Practice across the UK.

Having begun as a pilot project in 2000, we are now a fully independent charity and Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation, supporting venue and festival organisers to understand legal obligations according to the Equality Act 2010, and implement best practice solutions to deliver reasonable adjustments. We enable the music industry to truly understand the varied access requirements of audiences, artists, staff members and volunteers. Our ethos is that Deaf and disabled people should be able to be as independent as they wish to be at live music events.

Mystery shopping is the cornerstone of our work. Our dedicated team of mystery shoppers are Deaf and disabled music fans who continuously report back on the accessibility of UK music venues and festivals. We channel this feedback into our Charter of Best Practice. The Charter is a framework with which to examine all aspects of making a venue or festival as accessible as possible. Structured around a progression route through Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, the Charter was recognised by the UK Live Music Group in 2017 as the ‘industry standard’ when it comes to live music accessibility. Over 130 venues and festivals have gained awards, with many more having benefitted from historic and ongoing advice. 

In 2017, we launched the Grassroots Venue Charter, in order to tailor our work to assist small independent venues facing unique challenges. In November 2017 we published a DIY Access Guide for bands, artists and promoters to further support access to music at the grassroots level. We also announced our new Attitude Champion model in 2017, enabling us share the principles of the Charter of Best Practice and apply them to diverse organisations in a position to influence others. 

In recent years, we have run campaigns to promote our cause, from the artist-focused Music Without Barriers social media campaign, to the guidance-backed Access Starts Online campaign to promote the value of access information. 

Our CEO Suzanne Bull MBE leads on our ongoing Parliamentary-level work to raise awareness of live music accessi-bility, and in 2017 was announced as the DWP’s Sector Champion for the Live Music Industry.

We have continue to grow our commercial services via the ongoing delivery of Disability Equality Training and Ac-cess Consultancy supporting major outdoor events and venue construction projects. Over 6800 people working within the live music industry have now received our training.

In additional to these activities, we run a festival volunteering project, recruiting around 50 volunteers each year, and in early 2018 expanded our Mystery Shopping project with the launch of a new online portal and increased capacity to engage with the hundreds of Deaf and disabled people who lend their time and lived experiences to support our work.

For further information visit: www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation the company ensures creators are paid whenever their music and songs are played, performed, broadcast or reproduced in public and provides business and community groups with access to 22.2 million songs through its music licences. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators.

In 2016, the organisation collected over half a billion pounds (£621.5m) on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.