The British ParaorchestraBristol Colston Hall has secured a coveted award from the UK’s leading organisation who campaign to improve disabled access at live music venues.

Attitude is Everything awarded the Bronze standard following the Fast Forward Festival held last weekend. Their Charter recognises the steps venues take to serve deaf and disabled people, advising on actions to improve their rating up to Gold.

The festival raised the profile of the need for concert venues across the UK to improve disabled access for performers, audiences, and music pupils. It included a performance by British Paraorchestra, the 26 piece orchestra conducted by Charles Hazlewood, in front of over 600 people.

In order to stage the Festival, the Hall carried out £10,500 of disabled adaptations, including a ramp for performers to get onto the stage.

CEO of Bristol Music TrustLouise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust, said, “The performances by our headline acts showed what Colston Hall can achieve when one-off facilities are installed to improve access for disabled people.

“Through our £45 million transformation, our ambition is to make our concert halls and music education facilities accessible all year round. Our Bronze award is an excellent start. Working with Attitude is Everything, we are now going for gold. World-class disabled access is a cornerstone of our plans.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, Chief Executive of Attitude is Everything, said, “It is very positive that Bristol Music Trust are working in partnership with us to develop their plans to provide better access for disabled people. We have worked with over 100 venues across the country, including the O2 London Arena and Royal Albert Hall, to improve access. The transformation plans are a really exciting opportunity for the Trust to become a high profile national example of best practice.”

Kerry McCarthy, Member of Parliament for Bristol East, gave an impassioned speech to a reception held before the British Paraorchestra concert about the need for venues to provide better disabled access. She said, “Society must change its perceptions and attitudes to disability. The people who performed during the Fast Forward Festival showed the nation that being disabled isn’t a barrier to excellence.

“But the cutting edge technology, access to buildings, and music education on a level playing field with non-disabled people must be available to help disabled people to fulfil their potential. Colston Hall’s transformation plans will put these important factors in place, making sure that Bristol leads the way in putting disabled music centre stage.”

The ‘Thank You for the Music’ appeal launched in September 2014 is already a third of the way to its £45 million target after commitments by Bristol City Council and the Government. Bristol Music Trust is now making the case for a further £5 million investment from the Government. The redevelopment is due to take place in 2017 and completed by 2019.

Attitude is Everything has praised Colston Hall for the following:

  • Long term commitment to improving access for customers, performers and staff
  • Good quality and accurate web info for deaf and disabled customers
  • Implementing a new booking system that will include an access address book to ease return visits
  • Accessible toilets
  • All the management team and front of house staff have undergone disability and equality training