An Update On The AIF’s Safer Spaces Campaign

London, 17th June 2019 In May 2017, the Association of Independent Festivals launched its Safer Spaces campaign, with two main objectives:

  1. To raise greater awareness about sexual violence impacting everyone at festivals from audiences to artists to staff and volunteers, and to spread some key messages around “consent’, about “not being a bystander” and to take a “zero tolerance” approach to all forms of sexual assault.
  2. For festivals to take inspiration from events doing good work in this area, and to sign the AIF’s Charter of Best Practice, committing to demonstrable actions such as training for staff, victim-led contingency planning and specific facilities for survivors of sexual assault.

The campaign and Charter were developed with guidance from experts at Rape Crisis England & Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs For Women and the White Ribbon Campaign.

In addition to a digital campaign with festival websites blacked out displaying a GIF containing key messages, 71 AIF members and non-member festivals signed a Charter of Best Practice committing to uphold a series of measures including publicised zero-tolerance policies towards any form of sexual harassment; the provision of confidential welfare services; a commitment to training staff and volunteers to deal with issues relating to sexual violence; and a commitment to taking a victim-led approach to all sexual assault incidents-

What has happened since the Safer Spaces campaign?

Following 2017’s festival season, AIF’s annual survey – answered by 2,031 festival attendees across the organisation’s member events – asked the question, ‘Have you ever experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival?’

4.83% of respondents answered ‘Yes’, 95.62% said ‘No’, with the rest skipping the question. Those that answered ‘Yes’ were then asked whether they reported the incident, 15% of respondents said they did.

If festivals have signed the charter, there are minimum commitments to uphold and they must have a specific policy in place that addresses sexual assault and harassment that is clearly available on their website, alongside a detailed reporting and disclosure process, and health guidance with connections to the local sexual assault and referral centre (SARC).

AIF provided a template for this with suggested wording, alongside advice on dealing with disclosures and examples of strong policies and communications at festivals globally (see supporting document).

The organisation provided festival-specific training on sexual assault delivered by Rape Crisis England and Wales at its 2017 Festival Congress.

It has also distributed sexual safety welfare guidance drafted by experienced festival welfare professional Penny Mellor (

It has also provided resources and assets so that safer spaces messages can be used on-site and in event programmes. Some festivals, such as Standon Calling and Hanwell Hootie have implemented this messaging, while many have their own versions of messaging around this – for example, Boomtown Fair’s wide ranging ‘Respect’ campaign:

AIF reminded members of their Safer Spaces commitment in 2018 and has done again in 2019. It will be actively monitoring this throughout the festival season.

AIF will continue to work with partner organisations closely and work with members to ensure that they are adhering to the charter and have specific and appropriate policies and procedures in place.

AIF CEO Paul Reed: “AIF, with the help of expert guidance, continues to assist its members in establishing consistent policies and effective resources at their events to take a victim-led approach, making it easier for victims of sexual assault to report, be heard and feel protected. Equally, we reiterate AIF festivals’ zero tolerance approach to sexual assault, violence and harassment. It is an issue that we have worked on with independent festival promoters behind the scenes since the launch of Safer Spaces in 2017 and we will continue to do so.”


The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) is the UK's leading non-profit festival trade association. Created to represent and empower independent festivals.