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Industry calls for sharing of security burden at first E3S

With expectations at an all-time high, Event Safety & Security Summit delegates agreed on the need for everyone to play their part when it comes to event security

By Jon Chapple on 16 Oct 2017

Olivier Toth, John Langford, Phil Bowdery, Event Safety & Security Summit 2017

L–R: Rockhal's Olivier Toth, The O2's John Langford and LN's Phil Bowdery

Some of the biggest names in concert promotion, venue management and event security have called for closer collaboration between industry stakeholders, as event organisers look towards a future where audience expectations demand increasingly stringent – and expensive – security measures at live events.

The theme of the need for increased cooperation between promoters, venues and other event stakeholders ran throughout the inaugural Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S), which debuted in London last Tuesday.

Speaking on the final panel of the day, The Show Goes On… Moving forward together, Live Nation executive president of touring Phil Bowdery said there is a “huge expectation” from artists about the level of security at venues, with “most international acts bringing a bigger security detail. [They] are quite detailed on what they want and how they want it, which we haven’t really seen before”.

While Paléo Festival’s Pascal Viot said in the earlier Rings of Steel panel that he believes people are ready to pay an extra euro per ticket to cover the costs of security, Bowdery stressed he “doesn’t want the cost passed on to consumers”. However, he also said the current model – where venues bear the sole responsibility for those costs – is no longer realistic.

“We need to come up with a model that works,” he explained, “because it’s not a sole venue cost.”

Bowdery added that he believes most promoters would be willing to contribute, “but we need some time to make sure we’re prepared for it. We have certain hurdles to get over – artists would be concerned we’re just taking more money out of their pockets – so we have to make them aware of what we’re all doing [on the security front].”

John Sharkey said SMG Europe is focusing on a new increased security environment while getting people into their venues earlier, which both “flattens out the arrival pattern and has the benefit of guests spending more money inside the building instead of nearby bars”. This, he said, will “help fund some of what we’re doing [security-wise] over the longer term”.

“We need to come up with a model that works, because it’s not a sole venue cost”

One measure that shouldn’t cost the earth – albeit it one difficult to implement – is a universal set of security standards across the world’s major events venues. MOM Consulting’s Chris Kemp used the example of the NAA’s A-Guide, which allows bands to “come into the country to play knowing the venue should be set up the same way wherever they’re going”.

Kemp called for the creation of one unified document bringing together all the existing security and safety guides – while Sharkey suggested venues could have a star rating, like hotels, so touring artists would know what level of facilities to expect.

Other key topics of discussion included an industry wide lack of qualified security staff, with delegates from the UK, Belgium and Germany all reporting a shortage in their own countries, and the importance of increased security not coming at the expense of crowd and general event safety.

“This summer focused so much on security that I’m worried the safety aspect – crowd management, stopping drugs being brought on site and even weather planning– is going to fall away,” said Gentian Events’ Eric Stuart. “That focus on security has been a direct contributor to lots of unnecessary accidents at events this summer where people were hurt.”

Also on the agenda was the problem of queues – and whether a group of people confined in a small area outside an event present an easier target than the event itself. A security adviser for the British government warned that individual new security measures can “interfere with each other” and called for a “holistic view” that includes the entire property, including its perimeter. “If your security policy is causing queues outside the venue, you’ve got your screening process wrong,” he said.

The inaugural E3S, produced by ILMC in close collaboration with the European Arenas Association (EAA) and the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA), took place at the Intercontinental London hotel at The O2 on 10 October.


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