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New safety plan finalised for Astroworld venue

A taskforce has unveiled an updated agreement regarding safety arrangements for events at Houston’s NRG Park, site of the Astroworld festival disaster.

According to the group’s members, the revised protocols, which will clearly state responsibilities for the various parties involved in events at the venue, will improve communication, development of safety plans and permitting procedures for large gatherings.

The 50,000-cap Astroworld was promoted by Live Nation and Scoremore. Ten concertgoers were killed and more than 300 injured after a crowd surge during festival co-founder Travis Scott’s headline set on 5 November 2021. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia.

AP reports that the move follows concerns relating to the the emergency response during the 2021 tragedy, amid confusion about which agencies and officials ultimately had authority over the event.

Under the new safety protocols for the venue, all relevant safety stakeholders will be required to be together at one location during an event to be able to better monitor possible problems. The move will also see the creation of an internal calendar of events and safety planning checklist, while the event permitting process will be streamlined.

“When there’s confusion, there’s hesitancy and when there’s hesitancy, bad things can happen”

“It’s not to say those things were absent so to speak. They weren’t as aligned as they needed to be,” says Houston mayor Sylvester Turner. “And when there’s not alignment, there’s confusion. And when there’s confusion, there’s hesitancy and when there’s hesitancy, bad things can happen.”

Houston fire chief Samuel Peña adds that while the creation of an emergency action plan was already required under the previous arrangement, the updated agreement dictates that all public safety agencies and other officials should take part in that process from the start and not simply review it at the end. “That is the big difference,” says Peña.

The Texas Task Force On Concert Safety (TFCS), which was announced by Texas governor Greg Abbott in the days following the disaster and went on to release a series of recommendations. One of its key proposals was for the creation of a centralised Event Production Guide – outlining and encouraging best-practice for event design and crowd control – which could serve as a one-stop shop for promoters to access existing legal requirements.

Earlier this year, the go-ahead was given for hundreds of Astroworld lawsuits to be formally consolidated into a single case. The first wrongful death lawsuit settlements were reached in October by the families of victims Axel Acosta, 21, and Brianna Rodriguez, 16.

 


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Taskforce publishes Astroworld tragedy report

A US taskforce has made a series of recommendations on how to improve concert safety in response to last year’s Astroworld Festival tragedy.

Ten concertgoers were killed and more than 300 were injured after a crowd surge during co-founder Travis Scott’s headline set in Houston, Texas on 5 November. The 50,000-cap festival at NRG Park was promoted by Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary.

The Texas Task Force On Concert Safety (TFCS) was announced by Texas governor Greg Abbott in the days following the disaster.  Led by Texas Music Office Director Brendon Anthony, the group comprised safety experts, law enforcement, firefighters, state agencies and music industry leaders, who held several meetings and one-on-one discussions to develop ways to enhance security at live music events in the state.

“The recommendations in this report are narrowly tailored to address gaps that were identified as contributing to safety failures at the Astroworld event,” states its newly published conclusions. “The TFCS also proactively used this process to enhance the state’s standard of safety practices for mass gatherings of all types.

“While some level of risk is inherent in any mass gathering, it is the opinion of the TFCS that proper planning will allow Texans to enjoy safe performances, concerts, and other culturally significant events.”

“The recommendations, findings and solutions detailed in this report will help the state of Texas prevent another tragedy like that at Astroworld Festival from happening again”

One of its key proposals is for the creation of a centralised Event Production Guide – outlining and encouraging best-practice for event design and crowd control – which could serve as a one-stop shop for promoters to access existing legal requirements. The guide would include a list of robust training resources for promoters, staff, and first responders for site walkthrough drills, security briefings, communication trees, and show-stop triggers and responses.

“I thank the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety for their commitment to safety and security for all concertgoers and for their collaboration with stakeholders on this critical report,” says governor Abbott. “The recommendations, findings and solutions detailed in this report will help the state of Texas prevent another tragedy like that at Astroworld Festival from happening again.”

The task force supports a requirement that promoters determine which emergency service would respond to a 911 call on the site of their event, and recommends that local authorities stop the show when it is determined that an event has been organised without a permit or has breached the bounds of the issued permit.

“The recommendations in this report are narrowly tailored to address gaps that were identified as contributing to safety failures at the Astroworld event”

It has also called for a Concert Attendee Code of Conduct as part of the ticketing process, which makes clear what behaviours will lead to ejection, and recommends that venues communicate with other venue representatives that have previously hosted the artist.

It adds that promoters should partner with artists to encourage safety, since messaging from the artist can be “uniquely persuasive” for fans.

 


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