December 1st, 2020
Today's read...8 minutes
Find out the new risks that come with COVID-related implementations and what essential safety procedures you should consider with venues open during the pandemic. This week we dive deep into safety with Jim Digby from the Event Safety Alliance. And (drumroll, please) more 2021 dates have been announced in the US!
The US will see more festivals in 2021 with Country Jam USA scheduled for July and EDC Orlando announcing November dates. Each event addresses COVID concerns on their websites with new FAQs and waivers for attendees.
Create NSW commits $500,000 to grants for artists, individuals, and organizations to present live performances in the Sydney CBD that will run from December 2020 until February 2021.
While our primary focus with COVID risk assessments has been around prevention and spread, data privacy is also being put at risk with new systems. Event MB covers what it takes to run a data-safe event from screening to sanitization.
The pause on live events has not stopped big-time arenas and stadiums from moving forward with improvements by implementing 5G to boost marketing and revenue generation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talks more about how the league believe this will enhance the game-day experience.
Though the UK lockdown is set to expire tomorrow, stricter measures will be put in place again. Venues will be banned from selling alcohol without food, but the UK live industry is pleading to be exempt through other efforts.
Twenty-one major music organizations band together to urge congressional leaders to ease the ever-increasing blow the live event industry has taken. The statement outlines why everyone, from artists to contractors, needs aid. The UK government also looks deep into hard data on previous forms of assistance for events and venues and plan for 2021.
Learn how the Director of Foster Events & Projects transitioned into a new role as a COVID Officer. She takes us through her experiences as she navigates uncharted waters and learns new skills.
Communication is vital in running an efficient operation, especially when it comes to event security. Learn how mass notification plays an essential role in planning and executing a security plan that keeps both staff and fans safe.
COVID may have made our Thanksgivings a little different this year, but Macy's still pulled off its beloved kick off to the holiday season. There were fewer balloons and floats, masked marching bands, pre-recorded performances, a shorter route and no live crowds, but the made for TV event was more popular than ever with advertisers and had 20+ TV million viewers.
Event Safety Summit
As a result of the ‘New Abnormal’ we’ve been living through since March, health and safety is more in the spotlight than ever before. Issues we thought we understood have been complicated by the need for social distancing, face coverings, and new sanitary standards. As we patiently wait for live events to come back in full force, NOW is the time to prepare a safety plan.
The Event Safety Summit will take place from December 7–11th and will (for the first time) be 100% ONLINE, making the "least sexy subject of safety" - but most important topic in the business - accessible to all. The Back of House Crew is looking forward to learning more about topics such as the Fundamentals of Tent Safety and Event Insurance in a Post-COVID World.
Registration is now open at http://eventsafetysummit.com.
Safety Tips from Toronto
Ryerson University’s School of Creative Industries, Toronto Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Foundation has organized a series called #Lights-on. This initiative contains several outreach activities and promotes event safety. The #Lights-on Venue Reopening Guide provides resources for venues to practice safety measures when reopening. This guide has seen support from the City of Toronto, showing the commitment to bring events back safely. You can check out Toronto’s guide and more COVID guidance here.
Say Goodbye to Ticket Scalpers
Passport by Wrstband is offering an alternative for contactless access control. This newest ticketing innovation has all of the benefits of RFID, is cost-effective and incredibly easy to fulfill. Fans will no longer need to print a PDF or activate an RFID wristband; alternatively, an activation link is sent straight to their phone, which loads their event ticket straight to their smartphone wallet. Once at the event, the fan opens their phone and hovers the phone over the ticket reader. Loud sounds make it easy for security guards to identify if the guest is permitted entry from a safe distance. What sets them apart in the world of access control is their fraud protection. Here are a few features:
Complex access types and zone allowances.
Abuse is limited by secure storage.
Jim Digby has spent nearly four decades in a variety of leadership and project management roles inside the live entertainment and music touring industry. Working alongside musical artists as diverse as Linkin Park, Enrique Iglesias, Back Street Boys, Marilyn Manson, Megan Trainor, the Bolshoi Ballet, Phil Collins, and Bon Jovi, to name a few, and most recently project managing the delivery of entertainment mega-projects inside Saudi Arabia.
Jim Digby's love of the entertainment industry started at an early age. In fifth grade, Jim found inspiration when his teacher made him Master of Ceremonies and the technician of the annual May Day celebration. From that point on, he was hooked for life. He was fortunate to grow up during a time when funding for the arts was widely supported in schools, which enabled Jim to explore and develop his interests backstage from a very young age. After high school, he went on to continue his education at an electronics trade school which helped him land his first entertainment-related job at a Philadelphia-area nightclub. At that time, Pulsations was under construction so it could host a 2,500 capacity audience. Hired as a lighting and effects installation technician, Jim later became the lighting/automation operator and the personality of the club's robot host, Pulsar. This first professional entertainment role is where Jim’s safety origin story begins which later led to the creation of the Event Safety Alliance.
On Pulsations’ grand opening night in 1983, a fatal accident occurred when a lighting fixture fell from the ceiling. In the rush to open, the safety mechanisms preventing the fixture from coming off the end of its track had not yet been installed by the construction team. The resulting mechanical failure killed a patron very near to where Jim had been operating it. Jim continued working at this venue and became a participant in the immediately implemented safety practices developed in the wake of the tragedy. From then on, nightly safety pre-checks were routinely executed fueled by a desire to never experience anything like the opening night tragedy ever again. From the beginning of Jim’s professional journey, tragedy yielded a personal defense strategy which helped to ensure the pain of this early moment would not be repeated.
He then went on to work at Disney where the devotion to customer experience, care, and safety were reinforced as essential ideals and were paramount in maintaining employment. Post Disney, Jim got his first taste of the tour life when he traveled the country as a Technical Director for a museum tour in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Snowballing from there, he got involved in Rock & Roll touring and production working with MTV during the Unplugged and Fashionably loud series, alongside a wide variety of music touring artists.
Historically, live event safety was not at the forefront of operations, nor did safety competencies need to be proven upon hiring. It has been a business that was by and large done by on-the-job training, where event personnel learn skills and lessons overtime on the job. Yet, safety has nearly always been a principal element of Jim’s professional journey.
How did the Event Safety Alliance come to be? Triggered by the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse, Jim had an overwhelming feeling that we as an industry lacked the tools to prevent such a tragedy and had collectively let down the seven who lost their lives and the fifty-five other people who suffered permanent injuries. He realized that it could have been him or any number of his colleagues in the same situation as those in Indiana and despite not being involved in the incident, the tragedy tore open the scar tissue leftover from the nightclub accident; he could not sit idly by.
Jim initially set out in search of education to improve his knowledge of safety, yet found nothing that directly addressed the risks related to the event production career he entrenched himself in, nor any professional development that came close. Simultaneously, Jim was in a group of like-minded production professionals who were holding routine thought leadership calls to drive a response to the tragedy. Eventually, it became obvious that a more organized advocacy was needed, so Jim proposed the concept of forming an alliance of production, safety, legal, insurance, and teaching professionals to address the glaring gap in safety knowledge that existed in live events.
This led to the birth of the Event Safety Alliance and within two years resulted in the publication of North America's first collection of reasonable practices, the Event Safety Guide. While no single publication could ever capture the entire spectrum of live event types, venues, audiences, and risks, the Event Safety Guide memorializes a reasonable, scalable, and referenceable starting point for safety across multiple disciplines.
“From green fields to enclosed venues, understanding one's duty of care is critical.” What does ‘duty of care’ mean? Jim breaks it down with the example of a Tour Manager. In this role, one has the legal duty of care of the artist, the elements belonging to or actioned by the artist, such as the trucks and production leased to the tour and the staff hired to run the production. However, duty does not stop here, the conscious duty of care is to do no harm to anyone and yields its best results when the leadership promotes and leads by example a culture of safety. In order to achieve this, communication is key. Demonstrating the steps taken to maintain safety amongst mutual stakeholders is of the utmost importance. “We are all stakeholders in safety.”
The jurisdictional boundaries of who is responsible for safety boils down to who has control in that space. When thinking of a venue, the venue is responsible for the humans inside it, the audience, the back of house venue staff, as well as ensuring the structure itself is safe. In some instances, some of this legal responsibility may be shared with a promoter.
Yet regardless of which entity has a duty of care for a particular portion or area of an event, risk identification, risk assignments, risk prioritizing are all component parts of risk management which must be a priority of everyone involved. The vision the ESA tries to communicate is that as part of a planning process for a tour. For example, the beginning of those discussions need to have safety as a component and must be specific and tailored toward what you are producing. The process involves risk assessing and measuring from all areas of what is entailed in the event; from the personnel touring on the bus to patrons driving to and from the venue. In this way, we are preparing ourselves so that if a risk-assessed situation occurs, and it has an impact, the response steps are in place. Encouraging our vendors to be able to demonstrate their safety mechanisms as part of the hiring process goes a long way because when you do that you inspire safety.
December 2: The Major Events Summit focuses on coping with event delivery challenges amid a global pandemic.
December 2: To continue to support the international music community, Midem has launched the Music Networking Week initiative, going on this week, enabling all music professionals globally to connect, meet, and make new contacts and potential partners.
December 3: BizBash presents "Predicting the Uncontrollable: Reinventing Live Experiences in an Upside Down World, which will dive into practical, actionable strategies gleaned from industry leaders taking the initiative and kickstarting 2021 planning.
December 7: Women in Events Week is a week-long virtual experience designed to connect, inspire, and acknowledge women in event marketing.
December 7: Join the Event Safety Summit for an entire week of conversations with subject matter experts, including opportunities to chat with them directly.