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The Music Festival Diversity Challenge.

Andy Robertson

As music festival organisers focus on their very survival due to the coronavirus pandemic, they shouldn’t overlook other key factors when running their festivals. Aside from climate change the other subject in focus currently is ensuring that events are embracing diversity and inclusion across the entire spectrum of their festival.  

Diversity can mean different things to different people but when it comes to music festivals it should apply to staff, volunteers, event goers, artists, contractors, sponsors and vendors. That’s a lot of areas to focus on but organisers should firstly learn and understand what diversity means for them and how it can be applied to all these different groups. This is the challenge for music festival organisers, so what steps can they take to make their event diversity compliant. 

The organising team should appoint someone with responsibility to enforce diversity principles across all aspects of the festival. This will entail the creation of training programmes for staff and volunteers as well as documenting any relevant policies and procedures to facilitate diversity. 

What is diversity? 
In many countries there is legislation in place to enforce diversity and where there isn't there are plenty of guidelines in place that can be found in the public domain. Typically, the diversity principles are: 

  • Cultural diversity.
  • Racial diversity.
  • Religious diversity.
  • Age diversity.
  • Sex / Gender diversity.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Disability. 

Staff and Volunteers. 
Diversity and inclusion should always start with the organisation's own workforce and where possible in any recruitment process they should ensure that diversity principles are complied with. The same principles should also apply when considering any volunteers that have applied to work with the festival.

Curators and producers for music festivals should attempt to included artists from as many diverse groups as possible. This can be a difficult task to achieve because a balance must be made between the headline acts wanted and yet ensuring that artists from diverse groups are included. Where a festival invites artist applications from new and up and coming talents curators should also consider the diversity question in their decision making. 

Event Goers. 
Music festival organisers should be sending clear massages and communications regarding the event being inclusive and diversity sensitive. Communications that encourage people from all diverse groups to attend should be backed up with clear message about the festival’s zero-tolerance policy towards any kind of discrimination. The organisers should not tolerate discrimination towards other event goers, staff, volunteers, vendors or artists and that if reported will result in ejection form the event.

Vendors, Contractors and Sponsors.
In selecting vendors, sponsors and suppliers it's important that the festival organisers obtain a commitment from those suppliers that they agree to the diversity and inclusion policies of the festival

Reporting and Transparency. 
To reinforce a music festival's commitment to diversity and inclusion it would be great PR to publish statistics regarding the music festival’s diversity efforts. This should not only include data on staff and volunteers but other initiatives among artists, sponsors and vendors for example on how the festival strives to run a diverse and inclusive event. In addition, a public statement regarding the festival organiser's stance on diversity should be published across their online presence.

Festival Pro supports diversity and inclusion in all music festivals. For any event organiser planning their music festival in 2021 using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their festival logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing.
Image by Pontin Su from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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