Spare the Rock Events: Some Thoughts and Policies

Feb 12

There’s this story, based on a survey of folks involved in kid literature.  I don’t know what the results of a similar survey would be if done in family music, but I’m under no illusions: There’s no reason to think we’re immune from it.

So here are some basic policies for any event I’m presenting on my own.  They apply to presenters, attendees, sponsors, producers, crew, and me.  And anyone else.  I intend to include them in advance emails to performers and won’t book acts that won’t go along with them, and won’t put on events at venues that aren’t cool with them. My aim, and the aim of folks with whom I work, is to create fun, safe, silly events that are actively inclusive. These guidelines are consistent with what I’ve observed doing this for over a dozen years and are intended to be there to (a) hopefully avoid any future problems and (b) deal with the very rare problem case.

This is a first draft and if there are improvements suggested, I’ll consider and adopt them.  The structure is borrowed, with permission, from the JoCo Cruise Code of Conduct.

  1. Be kind. Treat others with kindness and respect. Be inclusive and friendly, like we try to get our kids to be.  This underlies everything else.
  2. Don’t harass others. These are not allowed, period: any kind of physical, verbal, or psychological abuse; threats, intimidation, and bullying; slurs about race, gender, ability, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality; unwanted romantic attention, sexual harassment, and generally gross or stalky behavior; and photographing anyone or engaging in physical interactions without consent. This includes, emphatically, contact (physical or otherwise) with children without their parent(s)’ or guardian(s)’ consent. If someone asks you to stop doing something and you keep doing it, that’s harassment. (A note: We sometimes take photographs at events. If you don’t want yourself or your kid photographed, let us know and we will respect that. I try to have photos be primarily of performers in any event, but kids are often in the background.)
  3. Be nice to our staff and volunteers. Number 1 up there applies to everyone working the event, too.
  4. Be nice to the venue. Clean up after yourself. Respect the facility. Be super nice to the venue’s staff. Tip well. (That last one applies everywhere.)
  5. Follow the law and follow the rules.  Duh. And if I become aware of any conduct that might meet the definition of a hate crime, you better believe I’m reporting it.

If an attendee is aware of any conduct that violates these policies, there will be identified people to whom they can make a report.  To be clear: if you see something problematic, tell someone; that’s your responsibility as a person engaging in society if you can do so safely.

The policies, and those contacts (who will when feasible include at least one person independent from the event) will be posted at events.  You have my personal commitment that harassment won’t be tolerated and we’ll deal with problems promptly. Because I’m involved in a range of events with different partners and contexts, I can’t make a general statement here about precisely what the process will be in all situations, but I do mean “deal with” appropriately and thoroughly. If I learn of misconduct at an event I’m part of, I will share that knowledge to try to prevent future harm.

For events/conferences I’m attending as a presenter or otherwise (as opposed to presenting), or events I’m helping produce without being a primary presenter, I’m borrowing ideas from John Scalzi’s policies: You need to have a harassment policy.  It needs to be clear and it needs to have an enforcement mechanism.  It doesn’t have to be the same as this one above, but it needs to be similarly broad in coverage and scope.

Again, I’m not basing this on any specific knowledge of specific misconduct at any family music event I’ve attended.  But the older I get, the more I realize I have an obligation to do what I can to make sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome and safe at events I put together.

Like I said, this is a draft.  I think it’s a pretty good one, but I’d love to know how it can be improved.  You can comment below or email me (show at sparetherock dot com).

(Note: I’m making edits in this and not noting them as I might usually.)


One comment

  1. This is an excellent draft! With your permission, I would like to adapt this for use at a local free music festival that I help organize in my town. We have not had any trouble, that I’m aware of, but I would like to have a policy in place, and publicized, to avoid and, if necessary, deal with any problems in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.