New research has found that music industry professionals often don’t feel comfortable disclosing their condition.
The study surveyed 150 people that work in the music industry who have a disability or long term health condition. Funded by Arts Council England the results found 71% disclosing their condition as non-visible. Over 80% of those people, said they either “sometimes” or “never” tell colleagues about their condition, and gave reasons that include fear of experiencing discrimination and seeming less capable. These and other factors made some feel like disclosing a disability could mean they receive less work opportunities. Furthermore, 69% added that a decision to withhold their disability could have impacted on their health and safety.
Ben Price from Harbourside Artist Management decided to apply for the funding after another Arts Council study found only 1.8% of people working in the music industry had a disability, which was surprising due to the full UK population having an average of 18% with a disability.
Someone who advocated for the rights of those with disabilities, Ben Price has previously written about the impact of his degenerative eye condition during his job as a tour manager. In that article he said that 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 then continued: “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.”
Alongside other areas, Ben Price also did some investigation into things like venue access and how people with disabilities are underrepresented in the music industry.
When looking into why they might be underrepresented, 90% of respondents “agreed” or “strong agreed” that a lack of visibly disabled people in the music industry is a large part of the reason. 79% either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the low representation of disabled people links back to a lack of opportunities for them.
Blaine Harrison is a band member of the Mystery Jets, and he supports the study, by also calling 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.”
He then 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.”