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Workshop: Sexual Harassment & Assault At Live Events

Workshop: Sexual Harassment & Assault At Live Events

Renae Brown, Vision Nine (Boardmasters & NASS Festivals, UK)
& Tracey Wise, Safe Gigs for Women (UK)

That it was standing-room only at this panel showed the high level of interest in tackling sexual harassment and assault at live events. Many of the audience reported a rise in the number of reports of sexual harassment at events, and preventing it and tackling it was high on their agendas.

Renae Brown, of UK festival company Vision Nine, opened with some bleak statistics, including that only one in five people who had been sexually assaulted at a festival reported it to the police.

Referring to her experience running the Safe Spaces at Festivals campaign for the Association of Independent Festivals, she said it was developed in conjunction with sexual assault organisations, to ensure the messaging was correct and appropriate – and that it included men and women.

The campaign included a charter of best practice that festivals would sign-up to. The key points included: a zero tolerance to sexual assault (this meant having a policy in place to deal with it), let audiences know what will and won’t be tolerated onsite, take a victim-led approach, and increase training and awareness.

She said some of the barriers to reporting sexual assault were that victims might not know where to report it; that there’s a sense of shame; and that there’s a “social shame” about not wanting to disrupt their friends’ good time.

Event organisers can encourage reporting by making sure there’s good signage around the venue telling people what to do if they’ve been harassed or assaulted, as well as having female security staff on hand to talk to victims.


Brown said her company has an email address that makes reporting easier because some people want to report it when they get home.

Among other advice was to provide rape-crisis training for staff, making sure you have a sexual harassment policy and that it’s communicated to staff, audiences, suppliers and contractors.

Tracey Wise from Safe Gigs for Women explained how having grown out of a Twitter project, her organisation has grown massively. She said from their research, they’ve found that men are more likely to report than women.

“We need to make this a year-round conversation, not just at events,” she advised.