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Nile Rodgers and Chic perform onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)
Nile Rodgers and Chic perform onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Cracking down

‘Zero tolerance’: Coachella will appoint ‘safety ambassadors’ to prevent harassment

By WITW Staff on January 7, 2019

Tens of thousands of people attend Coachella each year, and amidst this throng of music lovers, harassment is not uncommon. So, as the Daily Beast reports, the festival is taking steps to ensure that Coachella offers a safe space to all attendees.

Coachella announced on its website that it plans to deploy trained “safety ambassadors” throughout the festival grounds to “facilitate access to care services for anyone in distress.” Tents staffed with trained counsellors will be available to those who need support. Festival organizers also that they are implementing a “zero tolerance” policy for harassment of any form—“be it sexual, physical or verbal.” Anyone who violates the policy risks being removed from the festival and having their wristband, which costs nearly $600, revoked.

A Teen Vogue article published last year highlighted the extent to which harassment is a problem at Coachella. Of 54 women who were interviewed for the piece, all had experienced sexual assault or harassment. The author, Vera Papisova, wrote that she was groped 22 times during the 10 hours she spent reporting at the festival.

But harassment is not a problem that is confined to Coachella. A 2018 survey os more than 500 concert-goers by the advocacy group OurMusicMyBody found that 92 percent of female fans had experienced harassment. Sixty percent of fans who identify as transgender had been subjected to homophobic or transphobic violence, and 31 percent of men who identify as LGBTQ reported experiencing physical and non-physical harassment.

Across the globe, festivals are responding to the issue in different ways. Electric Forest in Michigan, for instance, offers women’s-only campgrounds. The St. Jerome’s laneway festival in Australia has launched a helpline for attendees who feel unsafe. Sweden recently hosted a festival exclusively for women, transgender and non-binary music fans, which was founded in response to reports of harassment at the country’s largest music festival.

Since Coachella’s announcement of its “zero tolerance policy,” some activists have wondered whether the new measures will go far enough. “It’s very easy to say we are against harassment, but how are you making that happen?” Maggie Arthur of OurMusicMyBody tells the Daily Beast. “So often we see zero-tolerance policies as the end-all be-all, but in practice they don’t really take into consideration what the person who’s being harmed wants or needs.”

Read more at the Daily Beast.

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