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Perfecting Crowd Management for Music Festivals

Andy Robertson

With recent events the subject of effective crowd management has become very topical for all music festival organisers. What practical steps can organisers take to ensure their staff and volunteers are appropriately trained and that crowds are managed in a way that prevents future disasters from occurring.  


It is the responsibility of festival organisers to ensure the safety and well being of all festival-goers and to provide an environment that promotes this throughout event attendance. Depending on the anticipated number of visitors and the resources available some organisers prefer to perform crowd management and safety themselves while others prefer to sub-contract to an external company who can manage this on their behalf.

For any organiser looking for guidance on crowd management they can refer to the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA). The organisation has existed since 2001 and its purpose is to represent the interests of key commercial organisations whose primary business is providing crowd management and event security services. The UKCMA have a code of practice for members and the organisation is a good resource to find contractors with specialist skills and knowledge of crowd management and site security. Festival organisers who prefer to do their own crowd management should consider numerous factors that can have an impact on the event. 

Crowd Flow Planning.
 
The understanding of how crowds flow on a festival site requires specialist knowledge and has been the subject of numerous academic studies because it is a science. If anything is sub-contracted to an external consultant this is the function that is best left to experts in their field. Consultation at an early stage in the planning process will enable the festival site to be planned and designed with crowd safety in mind. This includes avoiding bottlenecks and preventing festival-goers from congregating unnecessarily. There should also be sufficient access for emergency services to attend rapidly as well as provisions for safe evacuation. 

Security. 
Security is a key element in crowd management because it is the security staff that manage pre-agreed plans for crowd control. Security personnel are responsible for ensuring that festival-goers stick to the planned routes and in and out of the site and that any evacuation is well managed. Security responsibilities should also cover the checking of ticket validity for all visitors and to prevent non ticket holders from entering. 

Training. 
During the planning phase of a festival both the full-time staff and volunteers should receive sufficient training on the festival site plan along with any procedures that are in place for crowd management. The training should be performed by an experienced and responsible person who may be a festival employee or an external consultant. The training must be a pre-requisite for anyone working on the festival site.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event 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, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

This article is an update of the original crowd management article first published on 23rd March 2021.

Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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