Security is something you don’t easily think about if it hasn’t been compromised for one reason or another. An unusual event — a natural disaster, a fire, a violent act, or even a global pandemic — can severely destabilize a visitor’s sense of security. Restoring trust requires time, action, and clear communication of what has been done.
When the public event has a population of more than 200 people, a safety and rescue plan for the event must be submitted to the authorities. A well-crafted plan also serves as a checklist for the event organizer. The security plan includes a statement of the nature of the incident, the risks of the incident and their anticipation, and the contact details of the persons responsible for policing and security. The rescue plan, on the other hand, includes a comprehensive description of the risks of the incident and the related rescue measures, operating instructions and contact persons. A separate security manager is always appointed for major events. In addition to drawing up a rescue plan, the organizer must also ensure that it is implemented among the event’s actors, staff and helpers. At present, in addition to the safety plan, the organizer must also draw up a separate health safety plan.
COVID-19 took the safety arrangements to a new level
The entire event industry was shaken in March 2020, when public events in Finland and around the world were closed due to a rapidly spreading infectious disease. There was a situation at hand that no festival operator could have predicted and in which no one could predict the future better than others. Over the last 1.5 years, the organization of events has been restricted from time to time, sometimes less. Many regular events have already been canceled on several occasions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, no events have been possible without restrictions and new security measures.
The new security arrangements have caused festival organizers extra work, learning new things and dealing with additional costs. On the other hand, reduced ticket revenues due to restrictions have tightened the economy. The event must take into account the safety and communication of the public, performers, employees and volunteers.
New perspectives need to be considered in event communication, and arrangements for the event itself need to be redesigned. The customer path needs to be redesigned point by point: rearrangements of entrances and other queuing locations, security and flexibility of purchases, handwashing and disinfection points, possible additional space requirements, safety clearances, seating arrangements and communication on safety both in advance and on-site. In addition, there is a constant need to monitor information on changes and refinements to restrictions and safety regulations, as well as on how things have been done in other parts of the world.
The industry is hoping for clear guidelines for the autumn
For the summer of 2021, it had already been decided to transfer all the Pirkanmaa festival membership events online. From mid-June onwards, some public events have also been held. Large events in particular have constantly updated several different scenarios to implement their event depending on the evolution of the disease situation and changes in assembly restrictions.
Gathering limits for August have now been defined, but a clear line is desired for the autumn events, which leaves no room for interpretation of the rules. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is updating its hybrid pandemic strategy during August. It is important that the future strategy sees culture as an essential source of well-being and that the conditions for action in this area are not destroyed. What is needed now would be a snapshot of how serious the disease is still, what restrictions are needed and whether corona passports or tests are necessary to allow events to reopen.
There is a strong desire in the industry to produce a responsible culture and enable safe encounters, and in the hands of event production professionals, these can be implemented in the best possible way.
Tiina Kuusisto, Pirfest Ry / Tampere Region Festivals
Tampere Region Festivals (Pirfest) is a network of Pirkanmaa cultural festivals founded in 2009, which includes 36 festivals in 11 municipalities. The memberships can be found at www.pirfest.fi. The network of high-quality and international festivals in Tampere region represents all forms of art and targets a wide audience. Pirfest organizes training and coaching for its members, coordinates development projects and offers membership services such as visitor surveys, advocacy, advice, support communication and marketing, and media monitoring. Pirfest’s activities are based on an interactive network and cooperation between festivals, and its goal is to promote the sustainable and creative development, accessibility and awareness of events.