It only takes a minute looking at the international festival scene to realise that the recent troubles we've seen related to drug use and physical harm are not exclusive to our shores. The USA in particular has seen a pretty horrifying surge in drug and alcohol-related injuries and deaths at music festivals, most recently the deaths of two women, Tracy Nguyen and Katie Dix, at HARD Summer festival last month.
In response to the latest incident, Los Angeles County have approved an Electronic Music Task Force, specifically devoted to ensuring that music festivals are made safer for punters. Brought forward by LA County Mayor Michael Antonovich along wish LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, you can read the full motion here.
Solis said, "I want to emphasise that our efforts around this motion, above all, are about the health and safety of those attending these events."
In a surprisingly quick move, action has already been taken in response to the events. HARD Presents: A Night at Fairplex was meant to take place on September 10, but has now been cancelled. Furthermore, Halloween event HARD Day of the Dead will have its capacity severely reduced from 65 000 to 40 000, while the age limit has been set at 21, additional 'cooling stations' will be implemented, and there will be heightened security numbers.
The motion continues to say that, while these are good initial changes, further research and safety implements are needed. "...procedures stronger than “general policy direction” are needed," it says. "Enforceable conditions and restrictions are required when these events take place on County-owned property."
The motion explains that a task force will be designed to "develop recommendations for enforceable health and safety measures and procedures, that would be required for all electronic music festivals on County-owned property, and report back in 120 days."
These changes follow on from a bill passed in 2011, AB74 or the 'Concert and Music Festival Safety Act'. All events with attendance numbers above 10 000, and held on state property, requires an investigation into the event promoter and their history, the facility itself, law enforcement at the event, potential for drug use and more. This was originally implemented following the drug-related death of 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez at Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010.
LA County have additionally made it clear that a blanket ban on electronic music festivals is not out of the question. "Ultimately, in the interest of public safety, a ban of electronic music festivals at County-owned properties remains a possibility that will continue to be evaluated. While the Board supports musical events in the County, what is of paramount importance is the health and safety of the youth attending these events."
Do you think the motion will help reduce harm at music festivals?