UK artists back call to end harassment of women at live gigs


A number of musicians and celebrities have joined forces to back calls to end the sexual harassment of women at live music events.

Paloma Faith, Beverley Knight and Sophie Ellis-Bextor are among those who have signed an open letter calling for change as venues begin to reopen their doors over the next few weeks.

In the letter, UN Women UK urges industry leaders, artists, companies, venues, performers and promoters to come together and commit to meaningful action to prevent harassment at gigs.

Solutions could include redesigning spaces, addressing behaviours and training in recognising abuse and harassment, it suggests.

The letter says: “Very soon, the music industry will be celebrating as our festivals and live events reopen to the world. It’s a moment we’ve all been waiting for. In a society that often works to divide us, music has the power to unite us – whatever the tough realities of life may be.

“But now we must face our own reality. And this reality is one that our industry has too long ignored: venues, festivals, studios and workplaces are too often not safe spaces for women, girls and marginalised genders.

“It is high time we change that, and we have a collective responsibility to take action. This restart needs to be for all of us. Our spaces must provide safety from harassment, violence, and abuse of power. Music should be a place of joy and inclusion for all.”

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Organisers of the new Safe Spaces Now initiative say more than 40% of women under 40 have experienced harassment at a live music event.

The Strawberries & Creem festival in Cambridge next month will become the first to sign the pledge, which commits to a safety-focused strategy.

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Claire Barnett, Executive Director of UN Women UK, said: “As live events return following the COVID pandemic, women and marginalised people everywhere are not only thinking about staying safe from the virus – they want to be able to enjoy their right to music, arts and culture without constant fears of violence and harassment.

“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces to be safer for the long term.

“UN Women UK is pleased to partner with Strawberries & Creem on this first ‘Safe Spaces Now’ live event, and we hope many more representatives from the music industry will follow suit and commit to helping us build a more equitable future.”

Chris Jammer, co-founder of Strawberries & Creem, said: “We’re passionate about ensuring our events are welcoming, inclusive and safe spaces for people to enjoy music together.

“Festivals should offer joy and hope to everyone, and they are absolutely no place for harassment or abuse of any form.

“Equality and diversity are values close to our hearts, and we’re proud to have a gender-balanced line-up this year, as well as to be working with UN Women UK on this crucial initiative.

“We hope that together, we can set a blueprint for what safe spaces should look like for festivals moving forward – for all of our audience, as well as our artists and staff.”

Other signatories to the letter include producer MNEK, Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore and radio and TV presenter Clara Amfo.

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