We’ve collected a handy list of organisations, opportunities, advice guides and other resources for early-career Disabled musicians. The resources are listed in alphabetical order below, and you can download a word version here: Resources for Emerging Artists.
Able Artists Foundation
The Able Artists Foundation is a USA-based, disability-led organisation that offers Disabled artists around the world significant discounts on music hardware and software from well-known brands (including Focusrite, Spitfire Audio, Cinesamples, Orchestral Tools, Soundiron and many more). Membership to the foundation is free, but they do ask for evidence that you are in receipt of a disability related benefit (PIP, DLA etc).
Access to Work
Access to Work is a government-funded scheme that funds accessibility support in the workplace, including for the self-employed. A grant can cover support worker and interpreter costs, transport, equipment, mental health support, vehicle adaptations etc. The application process can be daunting, but we’ve found two great guides for freelance Disabled artists:
Arts Jobs is a job-listing site run by Arts Council England, where you can find a range of opportunities across the arts sector, sorted by region, artform, salary etc. They also have an event listing page, where you can find information about conferences, courses, networking opportunities, mentoring and performances.
Arts Council England (ACE)
The Arts Council are the main funding body for arts projects and organisations in England. They have two funding streams that are open to artists, National Lottery Project Grants and Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP).
Project Grants are for projects with a public or community focus, supporting people to experience art & cultural events that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Funding is available for small/mid-size projects (up to £30,000) or larger projects (£30,000+), with additional funding for access costs.
DYCP grants are for artists who want to explore new ideas or ways of working. It can be used to fund R&D activities, mentoring, training, developing collaborations and partnerships, materials etc. There’s between £2000 – £10,000 available, plus access costs, and there are 4 application windows each year.
Applying for funding can be daunting, but ACE will fund access support for all stages of your project, including writing the application itself. Here are some resources and guides we’ve found useful:
- ACE’s main Access Support information page
- ACE’s application form for access support when writing a funding bid
- Downloadable templates for all ACE funding grants
- Google spreadsheet with a list of support workers who can help you write your funding bid
- The White Pube’s library of successful funding applications
Attitude is Everything
Attitude is Everything work to improve access in the Music and live event industry for Disabled performers, professionals, audience members and volunteers. Their Next Stage programme includes artist development opportunities and an artists’ network. They’re also looking for Disabled volunteers to “mystery shop” concerts, gigs and festivals and feedback about their experiences.
- Join an Attitude is Everything network
- Share your view via the Attitude is Everything Next Stages Survey
Baluji Foundation website
The Baluji Music Foundation is a blind-led, inclusive arts organisation encouraging participation in music by people from different cultural perspectives. They run regular workshops and are the founders of the Inner Vision Orchestra, a 20-strong ensemble of blind and partially sighted musicians.
BBC Introducing connects emerging artists with their local BBC radio station, allowing undiscovered musicians to reach a wider audience. You can upload tracks to their website, which are then sent to local DJs and presenters, who will feature tracks they like on their shows.
CRIPtic Arts are a theatre company offering artist development workshops, networking opportunities, funding advice, 1:1 support sessions and accessibility resources for Disabled creatives. You don’t have to work in theatre to access their help – their mission is to support and promote d/Deaf and Disabled artists from all backgrounds.
Deaf Rave promote and develop the work of d/Deaf and Disabled musicians through creative workshops, festivals, performances, advocacy & consultancy work and sign language/deaf awareness training.
Disability Arts Online (DAO)
DAO is a Disabled-led online platform that promotes the work of d/Deaf and Disabled artists. Their website is packed with lots of useful resources to help you navigate a career in the arts, as well as articles by other Disabled creatives, showcases of Disabled-led work, jobs, opportunities and event listings and the excellent “Disability And…” podcast series.
The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC)
The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) is the UK trade body representing the specific rights and interests of music artists. Formed by artists, for artists, they serve a diverse, global membership of creators at all stages of their careers. FAC’s ‘Free Guides’ webpage brings together many useful guides from various organisations. These include topics like streaming, copyright and royalties, as well as reports on diversity in the music industry.
Help Musicians website
Help Musicians is a charity for professional musicians of all genres, both in work and in retirement. They help musicians in crisis, with practical and financial support in case of injury, illness, bullying and harassment at work, and mental health concerns. They offer regular wellbeing sessions, peer support groups and a helpline. Help Musicians also support musicians to develop their career, with funding, advice, mentoring and more.
Independent Society of Musicians (ISM)
The ISM is a professional body for musicians. Some of their resources are free to non-members, including their funding and jobs listings, whilst others are members-only. Membership is £52 a year for musicians with less than 10 years professional experience, and includes public liability insurance, instrument insurance, legal advice, unpaid fee recovery, health and wellbeing services, a large online library with advice guides and much more.
Here are links to their free funding and jobs pages:
Musicians’ Union (MU)
The MU is a UK trade union, that represents workers from all sectors of the music business. They work to improve conditions and pay across the industry and offer a large range of services and support for their members. Membership costs £12 a month for Disabled artists, and includes insurance cover, a pension scheme, financial assistance and grants, legal aid, contract advice, support with funding applications, healthcare and wellbeing services and unpaid fee recovery. They have an active network for d/Deaf and Disabled artists, and have lots of free resources for Disabled musicians, including:
- A template and guide for creating an Access Rider
- A guide to workplace rights for Disabled musicians
National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO)
The National Open Youth Orchestra is a pioneering ensemble of Disabled musicians aged 11-25. They hold auditions around the UK every March.
The OHMI, or “One Handed Musical Instrument”, trust support Disabled artists to access adapted instruments and tuition. Instruments are available through their hire scheme and shop. They also offer specialist tuition and run a yearly design competition for instrument makers.
Paraorchestra is made up of nearly 40 professional Disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent musicians, based in Bristol. They offer artist residencies and post callouts for new musicians on their website.
The PRS Foundation is the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development. As well providing their own funding opportunities for early career musicians, they have a great list of grants, bursaries, and opportunities from other places.
Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for Disabled people. They work directly with d/Deaf and Disabled artists, including sound artists, offering residencies, funding, mentoring and more. They also have some great resource guides.
Sound Without Sight
Sound Without Sight is a user-led community knowledge and networking hub for blind and visually impaired musicians and audio engineers.
Unlimited is an arts commissioning body that supports, funds, and promotes new work by Disabled artists for UK and international audiences. Our mission is to commission extraordinary work from Disabled artists that will change and challenge the world.
The Uncultured is a blog and resource bank for freelance artists and arts workers, run by, Ashleigh Bowmott and Laura Sweeney.
The White Pube
The White Pube (yes, that’s the name!), is another blog, resource hub and run by Gabrielle do Punte and Zarina Muhammad. They have a monthly grant for working-class creatives, and a funding library where people can share their successful ACE bids (see Arts Council England).