Disabled people are facing significant barriers to building careers in the music industry, according to new user-led research.
The research* by Attitude is Everything found that nearly four-fifths (79 per cent) of Deaf and disabled people working in the music and live events industry believed that barriers related to their impairments had affected their career.
More than half (51 per cent) of those surveyed from the industry had withdrawn from a job application for access-related reasons, while the same proportion believed their impairments had been a factor in not securing a role they had applied for.
And more than two-thirds (67 per cent) always or sometimes concealed their impairments or health conditions from their employers.
The top career barrier for those in the industry and aspiring to enter it was other people’s perceptions of their capabilities. This was shared by 93 per cent of those surveyed.
Attitude is Everything, which campaigns to improve accessibility to live music, released the research as it published its new, free Accessible Employment Guide, which it hopes will improve the inclusion of Deaf and disabled workers in the commercial music sector.
One of those interviewed for the research says in the guide: “I often find job offers are suddenly unavailable when I ask about access adjustments.”
Another said: “I feel like my inability to network has seriously harmed my progress because the industry is so much about who you’re friends with and being fresh in people’s minds.”
Robin Millar (pictured), the disabled, award-winning record producer of albums such as Sade’s Diamond Life, chair of Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group, and chair of the disability charity Scope, told the launch event: “I’m here because, in 40 years in the music business in this country, I’ve never been offered a job.”
He said that research had shown that more than half of the population had admitted being awkward when talking to disabled people.
He said: “The big answer: let’s get rid of special schools.
“Let’s make sure we end up in a country that has had a whole generation that by the time we all get to 18, our classmates have been every sort, type, gender, colour, race, creed, ability, disability, mental acuity, deafness, blindness, you name it.
“It will then never occur to any of them to start a business where they can’t embrace the most talented, interesting, fun, engaging of all their friends.
“I’m really saying that attitude is everything.”
He added: “We, as a huge number of people, are unbelievably under-valued, under-appreciated, thought of as less capable than we are.
“The distance between your workforce and us on the outside trying to get in, is much smaller than you think.
“You will find that by being inclusive, you will find it is good for absolutely every single person that works for you.”
Paul Hawkins, Attitude is Everything’s head of volunteering and skills development, said before the launch: “Our research shows that Deaf and disabled people face barriers applying for jobs in the music industry and that many of those with impairments or health conditions who do work in the industry are concerned about the consequences of identifying themselves as disabled, especially if they are freelance or not in secure employment.”
He added: “The events of the last year have turned many conceptions about the workplace on their head and we’re keen to support the music industry to build back for all and for the industry to come back a stronger, more effective and more diverse place where everyone can succeed based on their talents.
“We hope that this guide will help to make that happen.”
The guide has been endorsed by organisations including UK Music, the PRS Foundation and the Association of Independent Music.
Ben Price, from Harbourside Artist Management, said: “The statistics on disclosure are quite alarming and we know one of the main reasons for that from an employee perspective is fear that an employer wouldn’t know where to start with employing someone who has access requirements.”
He said the guide was “a huge step forward in simplifying and demystifying some of the assumptions employers sometimes make”.
The guide is part of Attitude is Everything’s Beyond the Music programme, which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and aims to improve access to the music and live events industries for Deaf and disabled professionals, employees and volunteers.
*The survey was based on responses from 53 disabled people who work in the music and live events industry, and another 38 who aspire to work or volunteer in the industry
A note from the editor:
Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations.
Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009.
Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…