Industry pros back Safe Spaces Now initiative
UK artists, festivals and industry professionals have signed a new pledge to improve safety for women at live music events.
Emily Eavis/Glastonbury Festival, The Eden Project, Strawberries & Creem, Dice and DJ Clara Amfo, as well as artists Rudimental, Paloma Faith, Anne-Marie, Mabel and Beverley Knight, are among the signatories to an open letter launching Safe Spaces Now, created by UN Women UK to push for a safe and inclusive concert environment for both genders post-pandemic.
As part of the initiative, UN Women UK has drawn up more than 150 solutions for ‘safe spaces’ for concerts, nightlife and festivals, including redesigning venues, addressing behaviour within them, inclusion within staff teams, and training to recognise potential abuse and respond appropriately.
The first Safe Spaces Now pilot event will be Strawberries & Creem festival from 18 to 19 September, with organisers promising festivalgoers a “safety-focused strategy in close collaboration with UN Women UK” at the Cambridge event.
Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, part of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, says: “As live events return following the Covid pandemic, women and marginalised people everywhere are not only thinking about staying safe from the virus – they want to be able to enjoy their right to music, arts and culture without constant fears of violence and harassment.
“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces”
“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces to be safer for the long term. UN Women UK is pleased to partner with Strawberries & Creem on this first Safe Spaces Now live event, and we hope many more representatives from the music industry will follow suit and commit to helping us build a more equitable future.”
According to a 2018 YouGov poll, over 40% of women under 40 have experienced some kind of unwanted sexual behaviour at a British music festival.
“We’re passionate about ensuring our events are welcoming, inclusive and safe spaces for people to enjoy music together. Festivals should offer joy and hope to everyone, and they are absolutely no place for harassment or abuse of any form,” says Chris Jammer, co-founder of Strawberries & Creem.
“Equality and diversity are values close to our hearts, and we’re proud to have a gender-balanced line-up this year, as well as to be working with UN Women UK on this crucial initiative. We hope that together, we can set a blueprint for what safe spaces should look like for festivals moving forward – for all of our audience, as well as our artists and staff.”
Festivals, events, promoters, venues and other live music organisations are invited to sign the pledge and register their support for the Safe Spaces Now initiative, after which UN Women UK will follow up to discuss your commitments.
Inform, educate, sustain: Amplifying live’s global impact
There are a number of initiatives across the global music industry exploring, and in many cases, pioneering, solutions to the global crisis we face. We have recognised the need to be good neighbours, stewards and land managers because our businesses do not exist in a vacuum.
We are impacted by, and often subservient to, state and local regulation, an electrical grid, sanitation, paved roads and stable governments to succeed and profit. Without systems to build live music or festival infrastructure on, festivals don’t exist. Without careful land planning and environmental management, music venues do not get built. Our system grinds to a halt.
Recognising this, a number of initiatives are addressing this and positioning our sector within the global sustainable movement. The Music Declares campaign, led by Julie’s Bicycle, is one. The Clean Scene initiative in the electronic music sector is another. Around the world, festivals are becoming increasingly gender equal and promoting fair pay and fair play. Hundreds have joined the Keychange scheme. The multinationals, Live Nation and AEG, both have published sustainability targets across climate action, gender equality and overall sustainability.
But we are also lacking. In the music industry we rarely link our initiatives, our successes and our challenges with the outside world or other sectors. There is no adherence to the global language of sustainability– the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and how we can utilise what we do to support collective sustainability while learning from our neighbours. While we are reliant on urban and rural ecosystems to produce, promote, market and succeed, there is a lack of collaboration across global intergovernmental organisations to utilise music as a tool for sustainability.
In the music industry we rarely link our initiatives, our successes and our challenges with the outside world or other sectors
We believe our business has the potential to be a global leader in sustainable development – an important distinction to the simple concept of sustainability, because it refers to the urgent need to literally rebuild the world’s systems, infrastructure and common practices of day-to-day existence for the long-term sustainable future on planet Earth.
But we need to engage more with the processes and practices that itemise, strategise and audit sustainability around the world. While it is necessary (even mandatory) to deliver no-impact events, operationally, it is equally important to play an influencing role in changing attendee behaviour and demanding more from suppliers and corporate partners. What are the long-term positive impacts that festivals can claim in between event cycles?
When we understand this, we start to unlock the vital role music can play in long-term development as a strategic partner to the municipalities and regions where we operate.
This is why we are advocating for the music industry – particularly the live music sector – to align itself with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals by creating an SDG Music Compact – or an agreement that binds our business – linking our targets and initiatives with the rest of the world.
It is time to merge music with the universal language of sustainability
SDGs represent the first truly global language for sustainability that transcends culture, language and geography, opening up vast opportunities for data collection, categorisation, tracking and reporting. It also provides clear pathways to new issues-based partnerships, supply chain and decision-making that perhaps were previously hidden or difficult to navigate.
Most countries (and cities) around the world have SDG offices – with dedicated budgets – that focus on the most urgent social and environmental issues their specific region is facing. Both the media and fashion sectors have signed their own compacts.
But we lack this collective mind-set, this voice. We are reducing carbon, increasing gender parity and promoting fair pay in our sector, but each action is independent of each other. If we tied them together and created an SDG structure for music, the awareness and impact of our practices, such as Music Demands, will have a far greater reach than our sector alone. We have the opportunity to magnify our voice and impact effectiveness.
We organised an SDG Summit at Reeperbahn Festival on 20 September, as part of the Creative Solutions Summit. This was the first step to seeing SDGs embedded more in music to provide guidance, support and greater global awareness of what we do and why it matters. Because music is more than our industry. Music is our universal language. It is time to merge music with the universal language of sustainability.
NOS Alive partners with UN to promote sustainability
Portuguese festival NOS Alive has become the first music festival to partner with United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) in Brussels to help raise awareness of environmental sustainability.
NOS Alive has lent its support to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in UN Agenda 2030, approved and ratified in 2016, which commits UN member states to achieving 17 goals – including gender equality, the eradication of poverty and action on climate change – by 2030.
Festival director Álvaro Covões says specifics of the partnership will be revealed soon, along with new initiatives by NOS Alive to ensure it has “a great cultural impact with the least impact for the planet”.
“It is time to do our part,” he comments. “NOS Alive has been giving more and more attention to the issue of sustainability over the last few years. As one of the biggest events organised in our country we want to be an example in promoting responsible attitudes at the environmental, energy, social and economic level.
“It is an honour for NOS Alive to join this cause”
“That is why we embrace the United Nations Agenda 2030, not only to continue to promote the sustainability of the planet but also to help, through music and culture, [and] awaken the consciences of our public.
“Together we will be able to contribute more and better to this UN mission. It is an honour for NOS Alive to join this cause and be seen as a privileged partner to spread the word.”
NOS Alive 2018 takes place on the Algés coast in Lisbon from 12 to 14 July. Performers include Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Jack White, the National, Future Islands, MGMT, Chvrches, Franz Ferdinand, Wolf Alice and Sampha.
UN pumping $1.3m into Cuban music biz
With the two-year anniversary of Cuba’s restoration of diplomatic relations with the US fast approaching, a UN agency is providing a “helping hand” with rebuilding the Cuban music industry.
Drawing on a US$1.3 million budget provided by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), a United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) project is aiming to promote entrepreneurship and boost the export value of an industry that has “suffered” badly under a five-decade US trade embargo.
“Cuban music has a well-deserved international reputation due to its incredible quality and the talent of its musicians, but the country’s music sector needs further development in order to optimise this asset and grow internally and externally,” comments Carlos Chanduvi Suarez, head of Unido’s Latin America and Caribbean regional division.
According to Unido’s Charles Arthur, the project will focus on expanding both the recorded and live markets by, among other things, “developing business models, training musicians, producers and engineers, advising on branding and marketing strategies and supporting wholesalers and retailers”.
Cuban music has a well-deserved international reputation […] but the country’s music sector needs further development in order to optimise this asset”
By the end of project, in 2018, Unido says the value of sales in the Cuban music industry will have increased by 30%, and the sector become “more inclusive and sustainable”.
The Rolling Stones played their first show in Cuba last March; an event widely seen as a turning point in a country that once banned all Western-style rock’n’roll – including the Stones and Beatles – for “ideological deviation” from the communist line.
Michael Vega, WME’s former head of Latin music, told The Fader in 2015 a liberalising Cuba has the potential to be a major market for live music. “We’ve heard of a lot of A&Rs and writers going over to Cuba and doing scouting trips,” he said. “It just seems that every day you hear about someone having gone or planning to go.”