UK Disability Law - venues inaccessible to performers?
October 28, 2013 10:11 AM   Subscribe

What laws apply to music/performance venues in the UK in terms of providing reasonable access to disabled artists? Example: a band with a member in a wheelchair, where the venue may not be equipped to allow a wheelchair user onstage or in the backstage areas.
posted by greenish to Law & Government (3 answers total)
Employers are required to make 'reasonable adjustments' under law. There is no set definition of reasonable. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule that theatres have to provide access.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:33 AM on October 28, 2013

Employers are required to make 'reasonable adjustments' under law.

That is as may be, and I'm not a UK lawyer, but I highly doubt that venues are considered to be the employers of artists they have perform.

That being said, I'm not even entirely sure how this would work under US law, to be honest. In the US, the ADA treats venues as "public accommodations" and requires them to be handicapped accessible. Yet the vast majority of the attention seems to be on accommodating the audience, not the performers. I'm having a lot of trouble finding authority on how access laws apply to performers, most of whom are not employed by the venues in which they perform and don't necessarily count as "members of the public" either, as they have a more substantial contractual relationship with the venue than the audience does.

I think most venues wind up relying upon safe harbor provisions which will not require venues to provide handicapped access to the stage if it would require a major change to the venue's architecture, cost a ton of money, impose a huge administrative overhead burden, etc. It would not surprise me if the laws in the UK were similar, but I could be seriously off there.
posted by valkyryn at 10:55 AM on October 28, 2013

Hm, I can't see how the duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equalities Act extends to someone with whom a theatre has a contractual arrangement. As said, it covers employees. It also applies to goods and services provided to the public. Thus from the EHRC booklet on 'What equality law means for your business':
Equality law applies to any business that provides goods, facilities or services to members of the public.
This includes a wide range of different businesses and services. Within this, it would include lots of different entertainment venues both large and small, such as:

• theatres
• cinemas
• music venues – everything from a large opera house through to a local jazz café
• comedy clubs
• arts festivals, including music and children’s festivals.

This also applies to places that are not usually used for entertainment but have occasions when members of the public do use them for that purpose. For example, a church which holds lunchtime music recitals or an empty shop which is opened up for an arts festival.
It's difficult to see how this includes performers though.

However, if the theatre is a public sector body or carrying out a public function in some way, then the "general equality duty" should apply, which may provide some recourse.
posted by wilko at 12:57 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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