Rosemary Lucy Hill and Molly Megson (University of Huddersfield, UK)


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 marginalized 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 conceptualized, for what purpose, and who benefits from them? We draw on discourse analysis of safer spaces policies and interviews with music industry professionals about sexual violence at gigs. 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 can also continue to privilege the already privileged. We posit that when safer spaces policies are implemented they must go hand in hand with practical measures to enable inclusion. In doing so the needs of marginalized groups must be prioritised. Building on these conclusions we have created a safer spaces policy template. In this presentation we will discuss the key thinking behind the template and how it has been put to use by the grassroots music industry.