Reading Festival has been awarded Gold Status on Attitude Is Everything’s Charter Of Best Practice.
The festival’s organiser Festival Republic has worked with the deaf and disabled access charity since 2005, consistently improving facilities for disabled audiences.
The event reached Silver status on the Charter in 2014 and picking up an Outstanding Attitude Award in 2016 award for its innovative BSL interpretation service.
“In an industry as diverse as music and festivals, we should be doing everything in our power to make our events as accessible as possible for everyone,” said Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn. “As we continue to develop our BSL interpretation service and progress all disabled access avenues across our events, it’s rewarding to see our disabled customer numbers continuing to grow.
“Having worked with Attitude Is Everything since 2005 we look forward to continuing this relationship, and are delighted that Reading Festival has been awarded Gold Status on their Charter Of Best Practice.”
Reading’s other access-based facilities include a dedicated check-in for disabled customers, a fully stewarded accessible campsite, viewing platforms at each major stage, an accessible backstage bar and press area, detailed online access information and a dedicated access officer.
These facilities, and other provisions such as free personal assistant/companion tickets offered as standard, Reading, have led to a significant uplift in deaf and disabled audiences.
“I attended my first Reading Festival in 1987 for a day, when the headliners were The Mission, Status Quo and Alice Cooper,” said Attitude Is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull. “The highlight of my day was seeing John Peel’s delight at tucking in to a very lush jacket potato and baked beans, as well as seeing all the bands, of course! Back then, hardly any disabled fans attended music festivals and facilities were practically non-existent - which makes today’s award of great personal satisfaction.
“The festival today could not be more welcoming or inclusive. Working in partnership with Attitude is Everything, Melvin Benn and the Festival Republic team has consistently developed the festival to become more accessible and inclusive as the years have gone by. As a result, attendances from deaf and disabled customers, along with their friends and families, have never been higher. The impact is far-reaching, and a perfect embodiment of how live music can change lives when barriers to access are removed.”
PHOTO (L-R): Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn & Attitude Is Everything's festival project manager Paul Hawkins (Credit: University of Reading).