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The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has endorsed the Musicians’ Union Access Rider to its membership and will be holding a session to explain what access riders are, why we need them and why festivals should adopt them as a standard part of all contracting.

Research led by Harbourside Artist Management in 2021 revealed that disabled musicians still face many barriers navigating a career in the music industry. It found that 88% of people working in the music industry who identified as having a disability or long-term health condition ‘sometimes’ or ‘never’ disclosed the impairment or condition to those who they work with. Some 69% of those people admitted that this had put their health and safety at risk.

Research by Attitude is Everything found that 70% of artists had withheld details of a health condition or impairment because they worried that doing so would cause problems and impact a relationship with a promoter, venue, or festival.

The MU’s Access Rider was created by disabled musicians in the hope of changing those stats. It is working with organisations such as AIF and Attitude is Everything with the aim of making it an industry standard. The MU said access riders can help make it safer for artists to disclose, as well as helping change attitudes and perceptions of disabled artists by the music industry.

AIF CEO John Rostron said, “We’re delighted to be working with the Musicians’ Union on this important piece of work. AIF member festivals want to be inclusive, accessible spaces for audiences, crew and artists alike. Raising standards and improving practice is a constant within our work, and we’re confident that this training and information sharing session, as well as the communication to members on this topic, will help during this festival season and through festivals and events to come.”

The Introduction to Access Riders webinar will be led by MU Member and Cheltenham Festivals Innovation Manager Andrew Lansley and takes place 5 June, 12-1pm. Register here.