Arts Council NI publishes consultation report on Access Scheme for disabled audiences at arts venues

Arts Council of Northern Ireland,
09 February 2023, Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (9th February 2023) published new research it has commissioned into the potential introduction to Northern Ireland of a UK-wide Access Scheme for disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent audiences members buying tickets for creative and cultural events and venues. The four UK arts councils and the British Film Institution are collaborating on the development of a new Access Scheme for disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent audiences which supports their return, post-pandemic, to arts events and venues. The Access Scheme has also been identified as a key government priority in the UK Government’s 2021 Disability Strategy.

More information on the scheme can be found at Access Scheme | Arts Council England. A programme of consultation undertaken in spring 2022 by Perceptive Insight on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has helped to strengthen our understanding of the needs of local disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent audiences and arts venues and to establish the demand for the scheme in Northern Ireland.

Key findings based on the consultation:

  • There is not currently a consistent approach across venues to providing support for disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent audiences.
  • 81% of potential users would be in favour of an Access Card Scheme which is eligible across all participating venues.
  • Venues and event organisers expressed a positive view of an Access Card.
  • Key issues to be addressed include data protection, compatibility of venues’ booking systems, and the recognition that not all venues are able to provide the same level of access and support due to limitations with older premises.
  • Venues would prefer a ‘light touch’ process to proving eligibility to the scheme.
  • 65% of respondents, including potential users, event organisers and venues, would prefer to see the card scheme provided free of charge.
  • To realise the full potential of the proposed Access Scheme and maximise ease of use for users, the Scheme would need to be adopted widely.

The Disability Access Card Scheme Research Report is available to download at: