Accessibility: Unlocking the purple pound
Chair: Suzanne Bull, Attitude is Everything (UK)
Is the industry doing enough to accommodate the growing demographic of deaf and disabled fans who want to attend live shows (along with the friends that accompany them)?
That’s the question posed by the accessibility panel, led by Suzanne Bull of access charity Attitude is Everything (AIE). Explaining that the purple pound is the income generated by disabled households, she said it is worth £2.49billion in the UK.
Adam Wilson from The O2 said there’s massive demand for accessible events. If you create opportunities for people with disabilities – and do it well – they will tell their friends and family, which increases the number of people coming. He said the venue had three BSL signed shows when they first started, and now there’s well over 24 already booked in.
Olivier Toth from Luxembourg’s Rockhal said his venue built a platform for disabled audiences and it has seen strong demand. He said as a member of the European Arenas Association, he knew this was an issue being addressed across the continent.
"As far as the industry goes there’s a way to go still"
As people who went to gigs in their youth get older, demand for access tickets will only increase, added Julie Tippins from UK promoter and venue owner DHP Family.
"As far as the industry goes there’s a way to go still," said Jenny Hamada from AEG Presents in the UK.
Word of mouth is really important with disabled people, said Bull. If your friend recommends a venue, you’re likely to go.
Wilson said the O2 has a panel of people with different access needs that the venue consults when they’re making changes, or on other ways to improve the venue.
Tippins said in terms of the venues there’s no great drive from promoters for accessibility. In fact, it’s mainly coming from artists, citing Ed Sheeran as a particular example. She added that Adele had a number of signed performances. When the singer pointed it out to everyone at the show, it hammered home the importance.
Tippins said change is hard and there needs to be an impetus for this to happen, like with the #metoo movement.
Bull added that the big change she’s seen in the 20 years since she started AIE, is promoters expect disabled people to come to events now.