Since the outbreak of the Corona virus in early March, security managers from several European festivals have met online once a week. Among them is Morten Therkildsen, Roskilde Festival’s safety manager:
“Everything happened so fast. Initially, we discussed how we could handle this in regards to health, and we updated each other. Had they heard about something in Switzerland, England or Germany that we had not heard yet?”
Now, the discussion is centered on what the festivals can learn from the crisis
Crowd Management is a central part of the planning of Roskilde Festival, which has 130,000 participants each year. Photo: Kim Matthai Leland.
In addition to their main event, many European festivals host a number of additional events throughout the year. The same goes for Roskilde Festival. Under the auspices of RF Experience, the organisation helps other organisers develop and execute about 250 events annually as well as advise on how to support and promote good behaviour when larger crowds gather. One exampel is how a space is best arranged in relation to making sure that people keep a distance. RF Experience currently also help daycare institutions adjust to make it possible to have more distance and maintain a high standard of hygiene.
Learning from each other
YES Group is short for Yourope Event Safety Group and is a subdivision of Yourope, an association of 90 European festivals, founded in 1998. YES Group joined in 2006 at the initiative of Roskilde Festival and as a direct result of the accident at the festival in 2000 when nine people perished during a concert.
The YES Group includes, among others, Lollapalooza Berlin who hosts about 400,000 guests, Primavera Sound in Spain, who has about 200,000 participants and Paléo Festival in Switzerland, who has an attendance of about 230,000.
YES Group is led by Roskilde Festivals head of Division Service & Safety Henrik Bondo (back left) and Paléo Festival's safety manager Pascal Viot (back right).
At YES Group, members exchange knowledge and experience on a wide range of security issues. The aim is to ensure that everyone has the best conditions for creating a safe environment for the festival participants.
“We share reflections, thoughts and strategies. We trust each other and we learn from each other. There is no competition in this forum, it is all about achieving the best preconditions at all possible to create a safe environment at the European festivals. This network is without exaggeration a revolution for the industry,” says Pascal Viot, safety manager at Paléo Festival and one of the leaders of YES Group.
In general, Roskilde Festival has a strong collaboration with many festivals in Europe. Another example of this is this statement that Roskilde Festival released together with 62 other European festivals before it became clear that the festivals unfortunately had to be cancelled this summer.
RF EXPERIENCE – CROWD MANAGEMENT EXPERTS
RF Experience (this link in Danish only) are crowd management experts. The employees are educated and trained in disaster risk management and psychology. They have, from their work at Roskilde Festival as well as the many other events they work on during the year, a lot of experience in how to create a safe environment where larger crowds gather.
This knowledge has recently been used to help institutions get ready to reopen after lockdown, following authorities’ requests to keep a distance and to maintain optimal hygiene conditions. Previously, this specialist expertise has also been used to help the Danish Refugee Council create a safe environment in refugee camps and to help the municipality of Copenhagen promote security in the city’s nightlife.
YES Group was founded in 2006 by Henrik Bondo Nielsen, head of Division Service and Safety at Roskilde Festival, and Chris Kemp, professor in crowd management at Bucks New University in England.
The group is now led by Henrik Bondo Nielsen and Pascal Viot.
The group usually meets for seminars twice a year.
YES Group, in collaboration with Bucks New University, has launched a training programme in event safety and security management.