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Managing Protestors at Music Festivals.  

Andy Robertson

The majority of music festivals embrace good causes and support for social and environmental issues but there are occasions when protesters operate outside of the festival organisation. How can organisers manage protesters who refuse to cooperate and are intent on disrupting an event.


The reasons that a group of people choose to hold disruptive protests in or around music festival sites can vary. They often want to highlight a particular issue that they believe the festival has impacted or use the occasion to gain publicity for their cause. Their aim is often to attract media attention and their tactics can be peaceful or involve more extreme disruptive behaviour.

Local Issues. 
During any licensing application process local residents with any concerns are usually included in any assessment and the local authority take into account all views and make a balanced decision. After approval some local residents may still be aggrieved by noise pollution, road closures and congestion or damage to local wildlife habitats for example. Disgruntled protestors may post signage near the festival site and even congregate at entrance gates but on the whole, these are peaceful affairs.

Environmental Activists.
Festival organisers always aim to reduce their carbon footprint with robust sustainability policies along with zero damage to any sties used. These actions are welcomed by most climate change activist groups and organisers often work in tandem with recognised groups. There are however unpredictable organisations, particularly the ‘Just Stop Oil’ group in the UK who seem to randomly target anything to do with fossil fuel use and can be particularly disruptive. Given that many music festivals still rely heavily on diesel powered generators plus the number of festival-goers using cars to travel to a site there could be a surprise protest that could seriously impact on an event.

Engagement. 
For local issues organisers will be aware of any objections to the festival and this is an opportunity to engage with residents who have concerns. By engaging with residents, it may be possible to come to a compromise over any issues and prevent a physical protest from occurring. Working closely with local police may also provide insight about any potential disruption expected as planned protests need to be notified to the police. This allows for engagement with these groups where perhaps they are given incentives through charitable donations for example.

PR Management.
With good planning and intelligence organisers should be aware of potential protests that may occur during their festival. Having advance information allows organisers to draft press releases in preparation prior to any disruption. The content will usually provide moral support for any causes but perhaps oppose any physical protests because of the potential impact on the safety of staff and festival-goers or possible criminal damage.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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