Music professionals with disabilities often feel unable to disclose their condition, says new research.
The Arts Council England-funded study has shown that of 150 people who work in music and identify as having a disability or long-term health condition, 71% describe their condition as non-visible. Within this number, 81% said that they either “sometimes” or “never” disclose their condition to colleagues.
Reasons stated include fear of seeming less capable, experiencing discrimination or concerns around receiving less subsequent work.
69% added that this decision could have impacted their health and safety.
Ben Price of Harbourside Artist Management applied for the funding to conduct this study after learning of the results of an earlier survey by Arts Council England. Said research revealed that disabled people constitute just 1.8% of music industry professionals, whilst the UK population average of those with a disability is 18%.
Price, who has previously written about the impact of his degenerative eye condition on his work as a tour manager, said that his with this study is "not necessarily to ask more people to disclose their disabilities but to encourage an environment where those conversations are normalised and more people with a disability or long-term health condition can be welcomed into the industry — at all levels — without barriers.”
He added: “I myself have a disability that I didn't feel able to disclose, and I wanted to explore the perspectives of others in a similar position, as well as solutions of what can be done to improve disabled representation in the music industry."
Price’s work also investigated issues around venue access and why people with disabilities are underrepresented in the music industry.
On the latter, 90% of respondents “agreed” or “strong agreed” that a lack of visibly disabled people in the industry is a key reason. 79% either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the disparity is fostered by a lack of opportunities for young disabled people.
The study has been supported by industry professionals. Blaine Harrison, of Mystery Jets, has called for a disability rider “so whenever a disabled artist is booked to play at a venue, it’s just mandatory that as part of the technical rider there is an accessibility rider and it’s as simple as ticking boxes and very confidentially providing information of everything you need, and in a completely easy and hassle-free way.”
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He continued: “If all these things have been thought of for you it just takes the anxiety out of touring, you shouldn’t have to worry about that as an artist, you should just have to worry about putting on the most electrifying performance.”
Safi Bugel is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter