17. Festival Safety, Part Four: Wrapping Up with Resources

A handy guide for you with actionable steps toward event safety; plus finding your riches with a creative pumpkin beer.

Build Your Own Resources Toolkit to Plan, Work, or Attend a Festival Safely

A very dear friend of mine, Jen, is a bright and candid travel and love, sex, and relationship writer and speaker, as well as a fearless traveler, romantic, and brave, resolute feminist. She tackles issues women deal with--which can be heartbreak but also pressure and manipulation from men--for everyone from The Independent to BBC Radio. She has also picked up and traveled solo to just about everywhere. I’ve had some of my most outrageous-in-a-good-way travel moments with Jen, but she’s also been with me when we got laughed at and dismissed at beer bars in Budapest, and tried to escape predatory threats and insistent come-ons from skeevy men in Stockholm. In short, Jen is someone who has experienced a wide range of behaviors and environments, and when she said she was headed to her first festival since before the pandemic, I knew I wanted to hear about how it went.

“I’ve previously had plenty of questionable situations, such as unwanted grabbing or persistent provocation,” Jen told me. “It could have been that attendees are more aware and considerate following the last 18 months but in my experience of spending the last few hours of the festival solo, I had nothing but positive moments all around.” I am so glad to hear Jen felt safe and had a good time at this festival, but I wish this was the rule and not the exception: more often, I’ve been hearing that the past 18 months being cooped up has actually made people act worse than ever. The festival experience that Jen just had needs to be everyone’s, all the time.

I asked Jen how she prepares to go to festivals, and she told me she always makes sure she lets a handful of people know where she’s headed. “Also, it’s never a bad idea to have a trusted friend or family member have your location such as “Find My Friends.” Again, something women shouldn’t have to even think about. Jen does turn to UN Women UK and its Safe Spaces Now initiative that we’ve discussed quite a bit throughout this series for its resources and to check what festival organizers are doing. She said she ideally wants to see well-trained (on safety) staff, easy-to-find exits and safe spaces, and physical support at every festival, but added that, sadly, she can’t think of one example of an event ticking all the boxes.

This four-part series in collaboration with Ash Eliot of Women of the Bevolution has been written with just that goal in mind: for all events to tick all of these boxes. It’s just not acceptable for a festival, in music or craft beer or any space, to take place without absolute safety and beyond that, a welcoming atmosphere, for all. No one should be getting to profit off an event where they haven’t even bothered to make sure that ticket holders or vendors or musicians are safe from harassment, discrimination, and worse. For people engaging with every different level of festivals, we hope our research and writing starts conversations and helps point you in the right direction of how to help make change. On that note, we’re wrapping up the series today with a list of all the resources we’ve discussed throughout the past several weeks.

Resources for People Organizing, Hosting, Playing, Selling at Festivals

For those organizing events or participating in them, you have an opportunity to create a safe and supportive environment for attendees. And guess what: It’s easier to implement these policies than you might think. Just like Covid safety guidelines and fire safety protocols, it should be part of any sort of health or safety procedures. Here are some of the resources we’ve been discussing that can help.

  • Understand: Types of safety protocols that need to be implemented at events and festivals (to name a few!)

    • Safety advocates: A team of trained, trusted individuals walking the grounds of the festival and available for support if anyone needs help. Check out an example recently with the Strawberry & Creem Festival in the UK here.

    • Safe space pledge: Festival organizers should be transparent in their policies and include a commitment to creating safe spaces publicly on their website, social media, and on-site at the event with a list of what they’re doing to support attendees.

    • As well as a code of conduct: Make sure your event’s values are properly stated publicly and when you are engaging with vendors that they are aware of these policies. 

    • On-site mental health support and safe spaces: Include a booth/tent with mental health specialists available to speak with any attendees who need support. Also offer a space for attendees to disconnect and find a quiet supportive space for them to process thoughts and feel safe from whatever they are facing in that moment.  

    • Reporting systems: Implement a process for attendees to report harassment by  partnering with a third party organization or company like #NotMe. Include signage and QR codes at the event for staff and attendees to download the app and report if need be, safely and confidently.

    • Staff training: Ensure all staff prior to the event have been trained on how to respond and report a situation of harassment, assault or discrimination on-site. 

    • Vetting vendors: Ask all those who will vending or offering promotional materials on-site have signed a waiver committing to your code of conduct and guidelines for the event. 

    • Make a list and check it twice/ten times: In 2019, Good Night Out and the Greater London Authority created a Women’s Night Out Safety Charter Toolkit with a check list for festival organizers here

Resources for People Going to Festivals

Again, the onus should not be on the preyed upon to try to guarantee their own safety from predators, but! As more events adapt and grow to become the safe and welcoming spaces they should be, we can ask questions and do a bit of reading to make sure we will feel totally comfortable at a festival.

For any questions, if you’re looking for more resources, consulting, etc.--really, anything regarding festival safety--you can email Ash and I at SafeFestivalsNow@gmail.com.

Beer Tarot!

I pulled the Nine of Pentacles.

Pentacles speak to money, property, and achievement, and the Nine of Pentacles regards comfort, accomplishment, and prosperity.

There’s a lot of talk around this card that it means financial security is giving you mental and spiritual well-being. And of course, financial security feeds mental well-being because financial insecurity is truly one of the most catastrophically stressful burdens in our sick, twisted, corrupt plutocracy of a system. ANYWAY. The issue is that far too few of us have such financial security, but we find riches in our relationships, our work, our hobbies, and idk, perhaps most importantly, our pets. So, with this card, I ask you: how are you feeling those riches right now? How are you letting loved ones or passion projects feed your soul and inspire your creativity?

This card got me thinking about breweries who are in fact rich in creativity, and seem continuously inspired in their unique brews. To time that with the season, let’s talk about Pumpkin Beer for Cafes from Off Color Brewing. Part of their “Beer for Cafes” series, this beer pushes the pumpkin formula forward with earthy, nutty cold-brewed red rooibos and vanilla. It could be one to share with those important friends, too.

This Week’s Boozy Reading Rec

I can’t stop thinking about Theresa McCulla’s “Patsy Young — American Brewer, Fugitive From Slavery” for Good Beer Hunting. There is SO much I want to say about this story, but Substack says this email is too long(!) and the piece speaks for itself. Go. Read. Now.

Until next week, here is Darby very invested in Elysian Brewing’s virtual pumpkin beer tasting.