by Myki Angeline
As concert-goers gear up for the incredible artist line up at the 2019 Coachella festival, performances by women have been ramped up and will include Ariana Grande, Kacey Musgraves, Billie Eilish, Black Pink, Janelle Monáe, Lizzo, Christine and the Queens, Chvrches, Ella Mai, H.E.R., among many others. The three day outdoor festival has long been revered as the highest-grossing musical festival in the world (in 2017, it grossed a record-setting $114,593,000) and notorious for hosting a wide variety of the best in music performances.
And along with the excitement and popularity this festival produces, comes an ongoing concern for safety of the attendees. More specifically, the recent reports of sexual harassment experienced by women as reported by Teen Vogue in 2018. When you combine the overwhelming number in attendance with the presence of alcohol and drugs, the ability of fans to report assault incidents can be extremely difficult. Especially when the focus of the festival is an ultimate experience in music enjoyment. The activist group Our Music My Body conducted its own online surveys of music-festival attendees, and reported that 92% of women and 30% of men said they had experienced sexual harassment or assault at music festivals.
This raises the important question: can a sexual harassment-free music experience be obtained? Coachella hopes to answer this question with the enactment of their improved attendance policies with Every One.
Every One‘s mission statement is crystal clear:
We are taking deliberate steps to develop a festival culture that is safe and inclusive for everyone. Persons of any gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, age or ability are welcome at Coachella. Along with the Code of Conduct, Coachella will NOT tolerate any form of assault or harassment, be it sexual, physical or verbal.
The improved policies also demand accountability from fans, setting basic ground rules such as “always ask for consent” and “be respectful of other people’s cultures.”
During the festival, Every One will deploy a team of “safety ambassadors” throughout the grounds to help lead guests to services, including professional counselors in both the main festival grounds and all camping areas. This also includes new restrooms, an expanded all-gender area (open to any gender identity), and specially marked locations around the site where fans can seek services or report incidents.
Morgan Donly, Director of Customer Experience for Goldenvoice shares with the WiMN their ultimate goal for Coachella concert-goers. Donly’s responsibility is to oversee many of their fan-facing departments at the Indio festivals. Her hope is for everyone to understand how deeply her and her team care about every concert attendee:
“As a festival, we’ve always tried to push boundaries and be proactive. I hope that our new procedures and plans will help to not only push forward what we are doing as a festival and company, but also hope to press other festivals and spaces to do more. By establishing the Every One program, we’ve been able to spark up so many more important internal conversations. We’re not inventing this work, but we have a platform and hope to bring this work to light. If Coachella can operate in these ways, we hope that everyone will strive to as well. When an event becomes this large it can start to feel so impersonal and I want to humanize this show.”
While Every One is not a quick fix, it is definitely an important step in the right direction. Coachella’s forward-thinking efforts in raising awareness and responding to our community’s outcry for change is certainly commendable. But, community effort is also key; each of us must do our part to ensure a safe and fun environment for everyone. Don’t assume you have the right to touch, grope, harass any woman, man, or non-binary person just because you find them attractive. Everyone deserves respect and a safe place to enjoy live music. Be the change you wish to see in the world. The change that Coachella is working towards.