Festival Unveils Pilot Development Programme For Disabled Musicians.
An independent UK festival has unveiled a pioneering talent development programme with a national business support agency and a leading charity for disabled adults in a bid to transform disabled people’s access to the live music industry.
Chase Park Festival, which is set to take place again this year in Gateshead, Tyne, and Wear, on 6 August, has announced the arrival of The Chase Park Talent Development Programme in its latest drive to make music accessible for everyone, positioning it as one of the most inclusive events in the country.
The live event – one of only three festivals in the UK to be awarded a Gold Level of Access by Attitude is Everything along with Glastonbury and Liberty Festival – has confirmed it will provide a 6 month programme of music industry support for adults who want to develop their creative careers in the areas of pop, rock, urban and electronic music.
Combined with the recent announcement by Attitude is Everything that 144,000 disabled festival tickets were sold in 2015 – an increase of 26% from the year before – and the fact that Chase Park Festival sold out for the first time last summer, its organisers believe there has never been a better time to launch their new programme.
Working alongside Generator, the UK’s leading music development agency, and The Percy Hedley Foundation, a charity for people with cerebral palsy and speech, language and communication difficulties – the programme will see disabled musicians get the chance to benefit from a series of specialist masterclasses, seminars, and insider music industry advice to give them the tools needed to succeed in the modern musical landscape.
It is hoped that this support – which also includes advice on how artists can market themselves and distribute singles and albums and spots on this year’s bill in front of thousands of music fans – will lead to potential performance opportunities at mainstream UK music events.
Speaking on the launch of the Chase Park Talent Development Programme, Chase Park Festival Organiser, Alistair McDonald, said:
“As the festival has grown and expanded, we have developed links with organisations like Generator and The Percy Hedley Foundation which led to us starting to understand that there are numerous barriers for disabled musicians.
“We want to use the festival to give disabled musicians a platform to perform and to enable people to take advantage of the exposure. What we have also found out is that because of the barriers and access issues people might only be performing or attending at a handful of other gigs through the year, which may be in small venues with small audiences.
“We were delighted that the Art’s Council funding we received this year has enabled us to work with Generator to implement this specialist artist development programme. It means that we are able to assist the great musicians involved with the festival and that they will be able to seek out other gigs, improve as musicians and learn how to promote themselves.”
Generator’s Ged Robinson describes the development programme as a “truly accessible, supportive and realistic model that will consider the greater, longer- term barriers that these talented individuals will face along the way.”
Meanwhile, Rob Ottaway, PHF Project Officer, at the Soundscapes studio for disabled artists has said the charity is proud to support an artist programme that showcases its artists’ talents to a larger audience.
“Attitudes are changing for the better, but it can always improve,” said Rob Ottaway.
“There’s definitely a change for the better in how festivals are run, and disabled people’s attendance at festivals is up by 26% at the moment, so there has been a positive effect, but it’s only a start. The work Attitude Is Everything are doing nationally has been instrumental in this change and desire to improve festivals and accessibility – and Chase Park Festival, in particular, is leading the way in this region. Its success is hopefully educating people on how to put on accessible festivals.
“Chase Park is the blueprint for how festivals should be run, and all credit to the team for continually developing and improving what is already a wonderful festival.
“Our artists are not only getting the chance to perform alongside their peers and professional acts on a level playing field, they will be taking part in a national pilot scheme. It really is The North East’s Festival For Everyone!”
Disabled artist Eric Young, of The Soundbeam Band, added: “Chase Park is my favourite gig of the year. I love the fact that we get the opportunity to perform alongside professional bands, and learn from them while showing what we can do too.”