Amelia Boyle, the founder of the not-for-profit concert safety project, sat down with us to discuss their work.
GigSafe first came onto the scene around 2019/20, changing attitudes towards gig-going in the city ever since. Over the past few years, they have set off a positive transformation of views in lieu of the more troubling aspects of gig culture within the scene. They offer a line of support; advocating equality and safer spaces for minority groups and gig-goers in general. As a huge supporter of the work they do, I was delighted by the opportunity to find out more about GigSafe. Founder and Director Amelia Boyle brought us up to date with the project, sharing her conviction that wider systemic change might be achieved if performers speak up and music lovers sustain a dialogue addressing concerns.
Who’s on the team?
Originally when we first started out, there were three of us: Amelia (Founder, Director and Advisor), Lewis (Web Design and Advisor), and Yana (Advisor). However, over lockdown it was wise to grow the team as a higher demand for attending gigs was apparent. We now have 10 members in preparation for upcoming live music events.
How did GigSafe Glasgow come about?
It began as my third year uni project in 2019/2020. However, as the project grew, I stopped thinking of it as “just a Uni project”. I was originally aiming to make it a project focusing on mistreatment of women in live events. However, I did a lot of research and spoke to organisations like Gig Buddies and realised there was a much wider issue I wanted to tackle. This being that gigs are non-inclusive, and unsafe for minorities/vulnerable groups.
What have been your favourite gigs?
The best gig we did was Queens of Noise at 13th Note. It was a great line-up and there were lots of people coming to hear about GigSafe at our table. We also had an attendee come up to us and mention that the only reason they came to the gig was because we were there, which made us feel vital for making gigs a better environment for everyone.
How would you describe GigSafe to someone who hasn’t heard of you, yet?
GigSafe is a not-for-profit organisation currently based in Glasgow. We are a small team who station ourselves at help desks in live music venues, providing an ear to anyone who needs it. We work alongside staff acting as a third-party for any personal safety issues such as harassment, discrimination or in need of a general sense of security. We also provide leaflets with helplines if people do not want to speak directly to us. We strive to make gigs a safer and warmer environment for all parties involved.
“We are a small team who station ourselves at help desks in live music venues, providing an ear to anyone who needs it.”
What services do you provide?
Our service is creating a safer experience for vulnerable groups at live events, we have been trained by Good Night Out for responding to disclosures, and we always have at least two people at the desk on a night; preferably a man identifying and woman identifying, so the desk is diverse. Our leaflets have a range of helplines to use if our service is not needed at that moment in time. Additionally, the leaflet takes the user to our website with a further range of helplines and advice.
Which venues have been most accommodating?
All venues we have provided our services at have been very accommodating. However, we were offered weekly slots in Nice N Sleazy which was a great catalyst for moving forward with the project. It was great going in there all the time as we were getting to know staff a lot better and even people like the sound engineers were really accommodating and wanting to know more about us.
How would you like to see artists go about providing safe events?
I think a big thing for artists is not only having organisations like GigSafe at events but showing online, on stage and in conversations that they do not put up with their fans feeling unsafe at their events. In terms of promotion, if artists and/or promoters post on gig posters and line-ups that GigSafe are attending, they are letting their fans know that they support them. In addition to this, they might actually sell more tickets as people know they’re safe!
Are there any practicable steps for a gig-goer to take if they see or hear something troubling?
If a gig-goer sees something troubling, it is wise to analyse the situation properly, as on the surface you do not know how in-depth/dangerous the situation is. GigSafe are not spotters. We do not go up to people and question them as we do not have the authority to do so. We are there for the victim of the situation, and offer an ear to whoever needs our help at the desk. If you see something happen at a gig and are unsure of what to do, a good idea is to inform staff, or if GigSafe is there alert the team and we can sort the procedure out from there.
Can you envision these issues ever being eradicated? If so, how?
This is a massive issue that GigSafe is only partially fixing. Most of the incidents that happen in live events are rooted in deeper issues like misogyny, racism, ableism, homophobia or transphobia. This is a massive hurdle that can only be tackled if we begin reforming in all areas of society. Since GigSafe is focusing on live events, we are aiming to take down barriers of stigma towards minorities and help create change gradually throughout the country. I do hope that issues in gigs will never happen, however, it is moving as a collective and not just one organisation that will completely eradicate it.
Are there any similar groups you’d like to big up?
Girls Against are doing a fantastic job at the moment. They’re standing up against sexual harassment and misogyny in the music scene. They have a great social media presence too. Also, Gig Buddies Glasgow are fantastic and really lovely people. They partner people with learning disabilities/autistic individuals with a Gig Buddy with similar interests and they go and see music together. They’re opening up more opportunities for people who would usually have anxieties about going to a gig alone. You can find their website here.
How can people volunteer or get involved?
At the moment we are not taking volunteers since I have still not settled the new volunteers into gigs yet. I think when that is done, and we maybe get some funding and grow bigger, I will put out another volunteer post. The best way to get involved with us is to follow our socials and stay connected there. You can also attend gigs we are at/invite us to gigs you are doing! We are excited to build our community over the coming months.