Increasing attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment at live music events has led to the adoption of safer spaces policies by venues and promoters. The grassroots music industry’s ethos of inclusion and equality suggest that such policies would be welcome as a means to promote access for marginalised groups. However, safer spaces policies are sometimes controversial and their content and implementation patchy. Such policies therefore bear closer examination in order to understand their value and meaning for grassroots music. Here we examine the use of safer spaces policies in small and DIY music spaces asking, how is safety conceptualised, for what purpose, and who benefits from them? We argue that safer spaces policies can be a valuable tool for promoting access to pleasurable experiences whilst lessening fear of discrimination, harassment and violence. However, safer spaces policies sit at a point of conflict between those involved in equality campaigns (e.g. feminists and LGBTQ groups) and those who feel social justice campaigns have ‘gone too far’. Building on these conclusions we have created a safer spaces policy template and ‘how to guide’, available at In this presentation we discuss the key thinking behind the template and guide, in particular how we negotiated the conflict between these two groups.

Associated website and articles

Hill, R. L., & Megson, M. (2020). In defence of safer spaces: punk, privilege and safer spaces polcies. Punk & Post-Punk, 9(1), 59-76.

Hill, R. L., Hesmondhalgh, D., & Megson, M. (2020). Sexual violence at live music events: experiences, responses and prevention. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(3), 368-384.


DIY, feminism, politics, punk, queer, safer spaces, sexual violence


Rosemary Lucy Hill is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Popular Culture in the School of Music, Humanities and Media at University of Huddersfield. She is the author of Gender, Metal and the Media: Women Fans and the Gendered Experience of Music (Palgrave) and numerous articles on the politics of data visualisations. She researches gender, popular music and big data and is currently investigating sexual violence at live music events. She is also a rock musician. Twitter@rosemarylhill

Molly Megson is a Research Assistant in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film, and a PhD student at the Faculty of Medicine & Health at the University of Leeds. She is also a lifelong music fan with interests in how research can be applied to improving the gig experience.

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