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Festivals Toolkit: Diversity: Arts and Disability

Recent estimates of the numbers of people in the UK with disabilities puts the figure at around 10 million. Of those 70% have a disability that affects their mobility. It is obvious that this alone may present people organising festivals with particular challenges but if we wish to increase participation and reduce exclusion then these challenges have to be recognised and addressed positively.

The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Disability Discrimination Act (2005) place a duty on the public sector to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people and to eliminate discrimination.

This duty is anticipatory, meaning that public authorities will have to review all their policies, practices, procedures and services to make sure they do not discriminate against disabled people and ensure that all their services are planned with disabled people’s needs fully considered in advance.

It is important that festival organisers are familiar with these acts and incorporate the needs of disabled audiences and artists in their planning. In addressing such an important issue the first action could be to seek advice on how the acts affect you and how you can improve your engagement with disabled audiences and artists in an appropriate way.

Fortunately there are many organisations that exist in order to offer advice and guidance in both these areas. The following are just a sample of the organisations that a festival can approach.

  • Access All Areas offers advice and assistance with your access and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliance needs. It works one to one with its clients to achieve the best and most cost effective result in meeting your disability needs. Saving you money by implementing reasonable adjustments is its priority along with achieving safe access and egress. 
  • Disability Direct Derby is an organisation that facilitates independent living opportunities for disabled people residing in Derby. It provides a wide range of services, support and gives information and advice on just about everything to do with disability.
  • Disability UK also offers an extensive set of useful links to other organisations.

Working with Disabled Artists/Disability organisations
In addition to thinking about how to increase participation by disabled people as audience members it is important that festivals increase their range of artistic inputs to include those by people who have a disability. For advice and/or recommendations you could contact officers at Arts Council England in Nottingham and your local authority Arts Development Officer.

First Movement is a Matlock based organisation that works with people with learning disabilities. They are also due to open a brand new innovative LEVEL centre in Rowsley with major capital funding from Arts Council England.

Heart n Soul, describes itself as being like a big family of artists with learning disabilities. It creates and performs its own productions and night club events and can offer information on arts organisations who may offer work/projects suitable for your festival.

Further information:
The RIBA report 'Access to and use of buildings' includes amendments made in 2010 and 2013 to The Building Regulations. The report can be found below in the Related documents section.

Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

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