If you own or manage a live music venue, nightclub, or festival, your fans are already talking about personal safety at your space. They’re just not having these conversations with you.
These intimate conversations span harassment, sexual assault, and poor (or nonexistent) interactions with security or staff. Whether or not you’re already aware, the unfortunate truth is that these incidents are occurring during your events — and these incidents are likely invisible to you.
Even just one seemingly minor transgression of personal safety or dignity can mean you’ve lost a customer for life. In other words, keeping your fans safe isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s essential for your business.
The first step to make your event safer for fans is defining your organization’s values and putting them into action.
Here are three considerations to help your event, venue, or festival clarify their values — and keep your fans safe and happy as a result.
1. Make implicit values explicit
If you think you can get by without considering which values your venue or event endeavors to represent, think again. Your fans care deeply about them — especially younger ones. Eventbrite research indicates that 80% of millennial music-goers are more likely to attend a concert or festival whose artists enact positive change through their music. 79% attend live music events to express support for their preferred artists’ beliefs and values.
Your venue or event’s values are already implicitly expressed by the choices you make every day. Consider the artists you book, the way your space is laid out, and the way your staff interacts with your crowds. These factors affect your crowds’ perception of your event and their on-the-ground experience — whether or not you’re even aware of it.
“Founders or other high-up folks in a given organization often have a clear set of values. But if they haven’t bothered to put them down on paper, they’re informally and imprecisely transmitted to other people,” says Joseph Pred, the founder and CEO of Mutual Aid Response Services (MARS).
Pred has more than 20 years of experience managing public safety for special events and temporary mass gatherings. Among his many credentials, he founded Burning Man’s Emergency Services Department and spent 18 years managing the temporary city’s emergency services, including firefighting, emergency medical services, personal safety, and disaster planning.
“Once key stakeholders write down what they think the organization’s values are from their perspective, they’ll often find they overlap, making adopting these shared values easier,” he adds.
Making your values explicit will ensure they’re appropriate for your organization — and for your fans. “Organizations have values whether they state them or not, but they need to be written to utilize them to their best benefit,” says Pred.
2. Pair values with a code of conduct for fans
Once your values are down on paper, pair them with a code of conduct. “I’m all for having a strong set of community values — but pairing them with a code of conduct based on those values is most effective,” Pred explains.
A clear, easily understood code of conduct, backed by your organization’s or event’s statement of values, will help your staff make decisions in case of conflict. And once you share it with fans, it will empower them to speak up and take action should conflict arise.
“You can have a code of conduct without values, but if you want intelligent staff who are interpreting the code of conduct in the way it’s meant to be applied, pair it with an explicit statement of values. Together, they’re stronger than separate parts,” says Pred.
3. Train and empower staff using your values
A clearly defined, well-understood set of values doesn’t just benefit your fans and staff. It benefits the health and well-being of your entire organization.
“Once you have a values framework in place, you can make better decisions, and you can help newer managers make better decisions quickly using those values as guideposts,” he adds.
“There are tangible benefits to being a values-based organization: more efficient teamwork, better decision-making, and preventing mistakes due to misalignment.”
So if you haven’t had the chance to define a clear set of values that suits your organization or event, the answer is clear: Now is the time. Do it for your fans and customers — and for your business.
Want to learn more about why safety matters to your fans — and to your business? Read Creating Safer Spaces for Fans: Combating Harassment at your Venue or Festival.