Coventry University graduate aims to help music venues keep revellers safe

Sam and Jack

Sam (left) and Jack (right)

University news

Tuesday 20 February 2024

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Major venues including NEC Group Arenas have signed up to a scheme co-founded by a Coventry University graduate designed to reduce incidents of sexual harassment and help keep revellers safe.

Safer Dance, co-founded by Coventry University graduate Jack Young (28) and friend Sam Hennerly (26), was launched in 2019 and provides venues with a range of resources designed to improve the safety of customers, contractors and employees.

Such material, including staff training, educational resources and guidance, allows venues to engage with Safer Dance’s continuous improvement roadmap and help change attitudes and behaviours in relation to sexual harassment.

Safer Dance is already working with major venues including NEC Group Arenas, Fabric London and Invisible Wind Factory Liverpool, while also engaging with universities and other organisations.

I’ve always loved music, going to festivals and travelling to see my favourite DJs, but when I moved into the operational side of the music industry, I got a different viewpoint, I love this industry, but I saw that there was a darker side to it.

Lots of venues have their own procedures on how to deal with incidents of sexual harassment, and while Safer Dance can help venues to develop these, we are also about prevention. Sexual harassment isn’t just limited to the music and events industry, it’s a wider societal issue, but our aim is to help stop instances of sexual harassment from occurring at venues in the first place, rather than just reacting to incidents.

We want people to have confidence in the industry that they will be safe.

Jack Young

What we want to do is give venues the confidence to be able to tackle these issues and the toolkit, the training and the resources we offer enables them to do that. We launched Safer Dance in 2019 but then the pandemic happened, so we used that time to do extensive research with organisations involved in the night-time economy.

Our hope is that the resources we have developed can help to future-proof the industry. We’ve had some great feedback from the venues we’ve worked with.

Sam Hennerly

Although cases of sexual violence in our arenas are very rare, we can’t ignore this societal issue. As venues that host millions of people every year, we’d like to do what we can to combat this. Live events should be safe spaces for everyone and regarding Safer Dance, it’s great to see young, local people in the industry wanting to do more to highlight this issue.

Alan Goodman, Director of Event Operations for NEC Group Arenas

Find out more about Safer Dance.