Give a Gig is Youth Music’s flagship fundraising initiative, encouraging musicians and fans to put on live music events to support our work. Diversity and equality are at the heart of what we do as a charity, and this applies not only to the young people we support through our projects, but also to everyone getting involved in all parts of our work – including helping us fundraise.
Have you ever had to miss out on seeing your favourite band play live? Unfortunately this is a frustrating reality for many, due to lack of accessibility, resources and provision. We want to help you explore inclusive options to ensure all music fans get to experience a Give a Gig event. Making your gig accessible to as many people as possible means everyone can have more fun, you have the potential to reach an even bigger fan base and audience, and you can raise more money for Youth Music!
Here are some ways you can make your gig more inclusive.
Setting up your venue
Work with your venue to provide a designated seated area with a decent view of the stage. This will be extremely useful for wheelchair users, or for those who can’t stand for long periods of time. Providing this area would be beneficial for those wanting to avoid crowded areas too. For more advice on making your gig accessible, take a look at this DIY Access Guide produced by Attitude Is Everything - an organisation working to improve Deaf and disabled people's access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry.
Loud and quiet
Captioning gigs is an excellent way to make the overall experience more inclusive for people with hearing impairments. It also adds a new and fun element for all attendees. You could do this by displaying band name, song titles and lyrics on a screen during the set – this can be easily done by creating a slideshow in advance for each performer’s set using PowerPoint. Work with your venue to plan the best way to set this up, perhaps using a TV or projector screen.
Many people can feel anxious or overwhelmed by crowds or loud music. If there’s space available, set up a quiet room (or space outside) where people can go if they want or need to take a break from the noise.
Having fixed rules about when to be quiet can make some gig-goers feel unwelcome, especially if they’re not able to control the sounds they make. Our CEO Matt wrote a blog explaining why all gigs and concerts should have a relaxed attitude to noise.
Attending gigs with a friend can make the live music experience a lot more fun. Gig Buddies is a service that pairs up people with or without learning disabilities (and/or autism) to go to gigs together. There are several Gig Buddies projects around the country – but if there’s not one near where you live, perhaps you could help gig-goers to arrange to meet up in advance using social media.
Many disabled audience members prefer to have a friend or assistant with them, to provide support when it comes to things like travel, getting around, communicating and making decisions or accessing the toilets. You could make your gig more accessible by offering disabled attendees a free ticket for a guest to accompany them.
Parents often miss out on going to gigs due to the unsociable hours and environment. Wake Up Gigs is an events company that partners with artists and venues to provide child-friendly gigs for parents to enjoy too. Their ideas for making gigs more accessible include offering free tickets for infants, serving drinks in plastic glasses, creating comfortable spaces for feeding babies, and reassuring parents that noise isn’t a problem.
A lack of accessible toilets is enough to put many off from coming to a gig. Toilets should be safe, clean and accessible for all to use (including wheelchair users and disabled people whose impairments may not be so visible). Again this is something you will have to discuss with your venue to make sure accessible toilets are in place. Be sure to check out Attitude is Everything’s guide to how music venues can make their toilets more accessible.
Another way venues can be more inclusive is to make their toilets gender-neutral. This can help people who are transgender or non-binary to feel safer and more comfortable and it can also reduce long queues for the ladies’ toilets. If your venue doesn’t already have gender-neutral toilets, ask if you can make this change just for the night – often it’s as easy as just putting up a new sign.
Creating a safe environment
While venues aren’t always able to control of who walks in their doors, they do have clear rules on how customers should behave on their premises. Find out how your venue plans to tackle sexual assault and harassment by requesting a copy of their policy. Make the rules on how gig-goers should treat each other very clear, both prior and during your gig. This can be done by sharing notices on social media, websites and at the ticketing point of sale and venue entry. You can also encourage the reporting of harassment by letting your audience know more about Hollaback, Safe Gigs For Women, The Good Night Out Campaign and Girls Against which are all communities working to tackle harassment at live music events. DIY Space for London has an accountability agreement that it asks all gig-goers to sign up to, in order to make the venue a fun and welcoming place for everyone.
We hope you have a fantastic fundraising gig, with as large and diverse an audience as possible! If you have any more great tips for making live music events more inclusive, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.