Safe Gigs for Women (SGFW) was established in 2015 with the aim of raising awareness of sexual assault and harassment at live music events. Initially a one-woman campaign fronted by founder Tracey Wise, following her own sexual assault at a show in Cardiff, the campaign has flourished into a UK-wide organisation that had a presence at an estimated 50 events in 2017.
The campaign attempts to engage those involved with the live music industry at all levels: from gig-goers themselves to artists and, crucially, to venues and their management.
The role of music venues (particularly grassroots and independent venues) in fighting sexual assault and harassment cannot be underplayed. It is the aim of SGFW to publish guidelines and information packs for venues, but those looking to get involved immediately can see the suggestions below.
Set the tone
Venues have very little control over who might walk through their doors at any given event, but they do get to set out exactly how customers should behave once inside. Venues can make their stance on sexual assault and harassment very clear, both prior to events through notices on their websites, social media and ticketing point of sale, and during, though venue signage.
Having a venue code of conduct that explicitly addresses how the venue tackles assault will act both as a deterrent for potential perpetrators, and will reassure those who may previously have experienced assault at a live music venue.
The role of venues in fighting sexual assault and harassment cannot be underplayed
Train your staff
The safety and wellbeing of customers while in a venue should be the joint responsibility of all staff on site. Security teams do an incredible job, but they can’t see and hear everything happening in the venue at all times. Bar, tech, cleaning and other staff can assist simply by keeping an eye on what is going on around them: does someone look like they might be in trouble? If so, do security need to be made aware? Often victims will report assault to any member of staff that they feel comfortable disclosing to – it is the
responsibility of venues to ensure that all staff are equipped to deal with this and that procedures are followed.
Be consistent and persistent
Taking a zero-tolerance approach to any incidence of sexual assault or harassment each and every time is the only way that venues can maintain a safe space for persons of all genders. If perpetrators feel that they can get away with it, they will continue to behave in this way – do not allow them that opportunity, and do not allow victims of sexual assault and harassment to think that their experience is invalid by failing to take appropriate action.
Use your network
Venues have the right to set a behavioural precedent among their customers and staff, but we feel that they also have an obligation to do so with all persons involved with putting on their gigs. Ensuring that all artists, their teams and other staff are aware of the principles that the venue stands by has the power to create a respectful and enjoyable environment for everybody.
Live music is a community, and by all working together, we can stamp out sexual harassment and assault for good.
Interested in getting involved with the work Safe Gigs for Women do? Email [email protected] or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.