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UK music venues are struggling. Rising rates and noise restrictions are making it hard for them to survive. But while these pressures threaten to close doors, Blaine Harrison is fighting for accessibility.

His campaign began over 10 years ago when an accident forced the Mystery Jets frontman to tour the UK in a wheelchair. Born with spina bifida, Blaine had lived a relatively mobile life until his injury.

The demands of tour life combined with poor venue access made Blaine quickly realise how hard it is for disabled musicians. It was a wake-up call.

“That was the moment I thought, I need to talk about this as opposed to treating it as an invisible thing.” So he turned his condition into a weapon for change. “Faced with those challenges, you can either feel like you’re hitting a stumbling block or you can smash through it.”

He started working with Attitude Is Everything, a charity dedicated to improving live music experiences for deaf and physically impaired people. As well as giving them a voice, he made a bold statement by refusing to play at venues with no disabled access. “Live music is one of the most visceral experiences you can have; it should be for everybody.”

Taking a stand has paid off. He believes there’s been a huge shift in attitudes, but he still thinks we need to create more role models to empower disabled artists. “It’s time for the Paralympians of the arts to step forward and create the platform they deserve.”


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