With festival season well under way, I got an email from my friends at the White Ribbon Music Project inviting me to along to help them launch new guidelines at BoomTown Fair. These guidelines would concentrate on how festivals and gigs can be made safer for women. Being the founder of Safe Gigs for Women, how could I refuse?
BoomTown Fair, for those who don't know it, is described by the organisers as being "a city where it's all about the good stuff... Where everybody is free to express themselves... to dance like everybody's watching but you just don't care! To celebrate each other!" And from my first time there, it's hard to not feel this vibe. It's a full on immersive experience where everything from the stages to the towns built around them is set up to look like the Wild West or an old Medieval type town. I even saw a jazz band in a mocked up grandmothers living room, complete with their take on those old ceramic ducks. The band were in danger of outnumbering the crowd, in sheer volumes of numbers in such a tiny space.
With the emphasis on its independence and celebration of difference, in such a creative, freeing space, the crowd are allowed to revel in their differences. This is done in with the background of a huge peaceful, friendly, love filled atmosphere. And with this in mind, it now feels perfect that BoomTown would invite the White Ribbon project, along with Consent Tent and Safe Gigs for Women to discuss the new Safe Music guidelines by the White Ribbon project.
Reflecting on the importance of being at BoomTown, Alice Hardy from the White Ribbon Project said "We are overwhelmed with the support we have received from BoomTown, who not only read our Safe Music Guide, but made sure staff and volunteers were fully aware of the preventative measures to make festivals a safer place for women. Hopefully their brilliant dedication to the cause will influence other festivals to do the same".
The key point I will take from our experience at BoomTown Fair is there are so many people out there keen to add their voice to what Safe Gigs for Women and the White Ribbon Music Project are doing. Festivals are a community, and BoomTown Fair more than some. By making music safer for women, we can really strengthen that community feeling. From chatting to festival goers, it would appear they felt the same. Asking a lovely young punk what he thought about what we were doing, he summarised it as "basically, don't be a dick". And with the support from a festival as warm, beautiful and supportive as BoomTown Fair, it seems we really will get this message out, to make our music scenes safe for women.