In the new issue of Music Week, we celebrate all the winners from this year’s incredible Women In Music Awards. Inside you can find in-depth interviews with the likes of Outstanding Contribution Jane Dyball and Rising Star Parris O’Loughlin-Hoste and many more. One year ago, Attitude Is Everything CEO, Suzanne Bull MBE, was freshly inducted onto the Women In Music Roll Of Honour and last week she returned to claim the honour of Campaigner of the year.
Over the course of 18 years, through a combination of tireless campaigning and working in close partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry, she has made huge waves, and not just in the UK.
“I’m a woman, I’m disabled, but I’m also in the box marked single parent family and I’m in the boxes marked punk and working class as well,” she told Music Week of the personal experience she has been able to draw upon. “There are all different perspectives that make me who I am. I’m very proud to be disabled, it’s part of my identity. There’s no doubt that at times it can be slightly difficult, but it’s given me an interesting perspective on life.”
Here, in an unread portion of the interview, Bull delves deeper into her history of campaigning and the fight for equality...
How would you describe your campaign work to someone who's not familiar with it?
“I’ve always been a disabled person and I’ve always loved music and gone to gigs. In my early 20s I had some spectacular accidents at gigs. One particular accident was when I got my neck trapped trying to watch a band at a huge music festival and started suffocating, I was like, ‘If I get out of this alive, there are better ways to provide access to music’. The Arts Council England at the time, in the music department, contacted me and said, ‘Would you like some money to do a one-year pilot project?’ That’s how it started. It was only ever meant to last one year! Eighteen years later there’s a much bigger part-time and full-team, most of the team are disabled people, the majority of the team now are women, all three people in senior roles are women. If we can do it as a small organisation – and we don’t get much funding, we really don’t – just by working things out and saying, ‘We’re an open, inclusive organisation’ I don’t see what excuse anyone else has got. I’m very hard about that. We do great things with very little money.”
One year ago we asked if you think there’s parity of opportunity and renumeration in the music industry. A year on, do you feel it has changed?
“I’m better prepared to answer this now than I was last year. Remember, I work on the fringes of the music industry, I work for a charity organisation, so I’m slightly out of the loop in that way. Our organisation absolutely has equal pay, it’s absolutely based on your expertise and the number of hours you work. I hope the music industry is addressing equal pay. I have never understood why men and women aren’t paid equally. It’s about parity of job level and expertise. It shouldn’t be on anything else. The music industry has to seriously look at, and take on board, women taking maternity leave and what that’s like having children and the argument for having shared parental leave when people work more on a freelance basis. There’s a lot of work to be done around that, and also about women returning to the workplace after a number of years bringing up their children and the music industry being open to that. It’s important those issues are dealt with, and not just in a ‘tick box’ sense. They really need to get to grips with the heart of the issue. You need a taskforce that implements those actions that need to be taken.”