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Venue Summit: Safety & security

Venue Summit: Safety & security

Host: John Sharkey, SMG Europe (UK)

Guest Speakers:
Simon Battersby, Showsec (UK)
Tony Duncan, U2 Security, protective detail (UK)
Chris Kemp, Mind Over Matter (UK) 
Aline Renet, Prodiss (FR)
Andrew Smith, West Midlands Police (UK)

vs safety4Aline Renet, head of communication at Prodiss, opened the final Venue Summit session by presenting the findings of the promoters’ association’s research into live music attendance in France since the November 2015 attack on the Bataclan.

She detailed how a €14million emergency fund for promoters and venues – of which €8m was donated by the government – was instrumental in helping many businesses to survive the post-Bataclan drop-off in attendance, which fell 80% in the aftermath of the attack but has since largely recovered.

Other findings included that two-thirds of people reported that live music helps to combat the fear of terrorism and economic uncertainty, and that French fans want to feel like there is strong security in place at events – but “not the details,” for obvious reasons,” said moderator Sharkey.

Chris Kemp, whose Mind Over Matter consultancy works with the Yourope Event Safety Group (YES) at 41 European festivals, outlined how terrorism has grown across the world in recent years, with an increase in attacks in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and, especially, Europe. “It’s a global picture,” he said. “It’s not just happening in Europe ­– but it is ramping up in Europe, and it’s something we need to be aware of.”

Echoing Chris Phillips at IPM's Terror, Safety and Security panel on Tuesday, Kemp said terrorists’ methods have changed – there are no longer any IRA-style warnings, he said, or targeting of buildings – and warned of too much of a focus by music venues on preventing an attack and not enough on crowd management should one occur.

vs safetyShowsec’s Simon Battersby said he believes there is an expectation from today’s audiences that events have strong security, but warned against making people feel uncomfortable. “People want to feel confident but also relaxed,” he said. “It’s important customers feel confident as they’re coming in, but we need to do it in a friendly way.” He contrasted venue security with that of an airport, which can often be “an uncomfortable process to go through.”

Eps MD Okan Tombulca said take-up of innovative new security measures ­– which have seen a “big improvement” since the Bataclan – is sometimes hampered by promoters’ reluctance to open their wallets. “Their first question is always ‘What’s the cost?” he said.

Smith of the UK’s West Midlands Police said it’s important venues and promoters know who’s working their events. “It’s laborious and time-consuming, but you need to know who is working for you, either directly or subcontracted: do you have any idea who they are and what they have access to?”

When Tombulca protested, saying venues aren’t able to do background checks on employees, Smith suggested following up on references and checking with companies the staff worked for previously. “How often do the papers ever turn up for that casual employee?” he asked.

vs safety2He added that it’s “good practice to make sure the premises are as secure as absolutely possible. It’s one thing getting in on the day of the event, with all the security – but have you got any idea who is on-site in the days running up to it?”

It’s about understanding who is working for you, either directly or subcontracted: have you any idea who they are, and what they have access to?

Concluding the session, Sharkey suggested there were three key takeaways: That people, as demonstrated by the Prodiss report, still want live entertainment; that fans want to know security is strong, without knowing the specifics; and that sharing information – between venues, promoters, production staff, police, local authorities – is key to keeping concertgoers safe.

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Also in this series:
Venue Summit Workshop: Early stages
Venue Summit: Industry relationships
The Venue’s Venue: Big rooms & big data