Obviously we’re all desperately missing live gigs, especially sinking into the general excitable social muddle of crowds, and that feeling of the noise hitting your chest. And we’re concerned about the implications of live music’s return, for musicians, venues, promoters, and everyone else who contributes to and relies on events like these, professionally but also personally. But in this difficult time, we can think about what we want when live music comes back, and make an effort to create as positive and powerful a return as possible. So while it’s certainly not a particularly happy period for gigs and festivals, we love live music so much we think it’s worth trying to make sure it’s as safe and accessible as possible for everyone.
An initiative will be launched this month aimed at tackling sexual harassment at gigs by helping venues develop their own policies to deal with such incidents. As news of abusive behaviour breaks with depressing regularity in different areas of the music we cover, it’s an important reminder that sexual harassment does happen in every genre, in every city, in every kind of show. Thinking that it only happens somewhere else, in relation to music you don’t care so much about, is weak thinking and an abdication of responsibility, when in all areas of nightlife and live music, harassment can ruin what should be the some of the most life-affirming experiences.
Studies have shown that venues and promoters don’t always know how best to prevent harassment in their spaces, nor do they always have processes in place to respond when it does happen. And its important to recognise that every space, scene and social world of music needs to respond in a way that fits their reality. Responding to this need, Dr Rosemary Lucy Hill and Molly Megson of the University of Huddersfield, in consultation with Girl Gang Leeds and Kate Zezulka, have created a Guide to Writing a Safer Spaces Policy, to help venues develop their own policies for dealing with these issues, with an emphasis on helping them work on a framework that works for their own specific context.
The organisers say, ‘Safer spaces policies are a useful way to set the tone for gigs, helping audience members to understand what is expected of them, and what they can expect of a venue. They are valuable for staff too, making sure they can respond in an appropriate and consistent manner… Lots of venues are already doing really good work, but it’s useful to have those measures written up in a document that makes sense to audiences, to staff and to bands.’
The project has already been showing some early success, but will be officially launched online this week. The event is online on Wednesday 16th September from 5pm to 6pm (BST), with free tickets bookable here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/five-step-guide-to-writing-a-safer-spaces-policy-launch-registration-116863520937
There will be an introduction to the Guide and its aims, as well as accounts from venues and promoters, and the Good Night Out campaign who train venue staff in responding to sexual harassment at gigs. More information and some great resources can be found at http://saferspaces.org.uk/.