On Monday, May 8, a collective of music festivals in the UK will be doing an online blackout in support of a Safer Spaces campaign to battle sexual assault.
The Safer Spaces campaign is spearheaded by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which represents more than 60 UK events attended by over 500,000 each year. The campaign follows a series of initiatives made by AIF members and is supported by the experts at Rape Crisis England & Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs for Women and the White Ribbon Campaign.
From 9am Monday to 9am Tuesday, the 27 festivals—including Always the Sun, Bestival, Boomtown Fair, End of the Road, Parklife and Secret Garden Party—will “blackout” their websites to draw awareness to an under-addressed issue.
"This campaign is building upon the positive measures that are already being taken by our members. We are reiterating that we have a zero tolerance towards any form of sexual harassment or assault at our events. Our members already take very seriously their responsibilities as event organisers, and by taking guidance from Rape Crisis England & Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs For Women and the White Ribbon Campaign we are aiming to tackle these issues in both a sensitive and impactful way – pushing awareness of sexual safety to the fore, while ensuring all those working onsite are properly trained, and that UK festivals continue to provide the safest, securest and most enjoyable environment for their customers,” explains Campaign Manager at AIF Renae Brown.
In conjunction with this campaign, over 60 members of the AIF have also signed a Charter of Best Practice as a commitment to upholding effective policies and procedures to minimize sexual harassment at their events.
Secret Garden Party founder shares, “It is gratifying to know that a formal policy is being put in place across so many festivals highlighting the availability of support to both the victims and witnesses. It is essential that events come together, with the public, to try and eradicate this totally unacceptable behaviour.”
As part of the campaign, AIF and organizers will be tying in social media, employing a #saferspacesatfestivals hashtag as part of the campaign and will share a short animation that highlights three key messages: Zero Tolerance to Sexual Assault, Hands Off Unless Consent, and Don’t Be a Bystander
It’s easy to pretend these we are entering a utopia of some sort when we gather in these escapist communities—a place where “real world” problems cease to exist and everyone’s just there to have a good time. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, this is nowhere near the reality. Though not as prominent in smaller, more intimate gatherings, it’s hard to avoid when there are tens and sometimes hundreds of thouands of people coming together in one space. The idyllic microcosms we immerse ourselves in are truly microcosms, meaning both the good and the bad follow us through those gates. No one enjoys talking about sexual assault, but it’s refreshing to see the elephant in the room finally being addressed.