The Rock House Festival is set up by Carousel as a celebration of music. It fears tons of bands, some of which have learning-disabled musicians. Jamie Walker spoke to Carousel’s senior music producer, Gareth Evans, to find our more.

How did the idea for Rock House come about?

Rock House events have been going since 2009, and it was started initially by Richard Phoenix and Tom Cook, two musicians, as a response to the number of learning disabled musicians in the city who were developing songs, writing songs, but didn’t really have an outlet. Rock House was born out of the desire of these musicians to have some air time.

I think in around 2012, we started working with the Green Door Store and then these events developed from being an opportunity to being a showcase.

Carousel is now producing these events monthly in The Green Door Store, and it’s become a real celebration. Last year we had over 20 established learning-disabled musicians that came to play Rock House gigs.

The festival is a big celebration of all the work that happens at the Rock House.

The purpose is to mix the bands we know well with the local music scene. Each year we have one guest band who haven’t played it before.

It brings a new audience in and a great blend of musicians.

How important do you think it is for the show to be all inclusive

I think sometimes it can be quite hard for someone like me to come in and advocate for the quality of learning-disabled musicians and the music they create.

It’s much easier for them to come along and be part of the event, and just see the high level of musicianship, professionalism and diversity.

It’s important that those bands have a chance to get their music out there. It’s important for other musicians to see the music that is being created too.

I also think it’s quite critical for audiences and venues, and The Green Door Store have really got on board with the event and understand the ethos of what we’re trying to do.

For the regular monthly nights we get at least 100 people at each show. They’re well attended, and the audience breakdown is about 55 per cent to 45 per cent in favour of people with learning disabilities. We’ve seen a real upturn of people who want to come and see new music. To me it’s an authentic, really good gig.

Do you think bands and musicians with learning-disabilities can be overlooked and under-appreciated?

I think the local infrastructure feels like there’s been a move to understand that support is needed for people with learning disabilities to make music, and reach their potential.

On a national level, we take a lot of our musicians out on tour around the UK. We speak to a lot of venues and promoters who get it, and who can see the opportunity for their venue and the audiences they could reach.

I feel like there’s still a preconception about what a learning-disabled musician can offer. I think we’ve made progress but I don’t think we’re there just yet.

What sort of extra considerations do you need to take into account when taking a learning-disabled musician out on tour?

The support That’s required, and assessment around risks, depends very much on the individual. Disability is such a broad thing so we work closely with those individuals to make sure the support is adequate.

A lot of unsigned bands on tour would be able to crash on people’s floors or busk. That wouldn’t work for a band of people with learning disabilities. There needs to be a lot more thought about how the day ahead looks.

There’s things like physical access, communication support with the engineers and promoters.

At Carousel we’ve got a strong team, who have a lot of support with these events, so we can be almost invisible and let the artist be in control of the situation.

So if anyone is around, why should they come and check out Rock House Festival?

We say it’s certainly one of the, if not the, most progressive, forward thinking, ambitious music events in Brighton & Hove. You don’t know what’s going to come next, but it’ll be full of energy and fun. Leave all your inhibitions at the door and come and have a good time.