On Listening vs Silence: a response to a media mention
This statement is in regards to an article about Gaytimes festival, written by all around babe Jasmin Ashton, who gave the festival a thoughtful review, including some observations about its safety policy.
This statement is in regards to an article about Gaytimes festival, written by all around babe Jasmin Ashton, who gave the festival a thoughtful review, including some observations about its safety policy. The author described their own experiences with harassment and assault at the festival, and a “deafening” silence on this issue, despite the festival having a great range of resources on sexual violence available to patrons prior to the weekend. The article also mentioned a panel discussion at the festival in which topics of racial profiling and tokenisation were raised, and not duly dealt with.
LISTEN was also referred to in the article, because we are involved with the Victorian taskforce to address sexual harassment in music venues, and because there were several LISTEN volunteers/directors at the festival and on the lineup. So, in an effort to foster progress, dialogue, and a community that is accountable to each other, we at LISTEN want to respond with some thoughts we’ve been mulling over.
The last thing we want is for members of the music community to feel as though LISTEN is complicit in a space that does not take action on issues of safety and inclusivity. This is a matter extremely close to all of our hearts, and one we have been working on from a personal to policy level. What we must acknowledge, however, is that we have been associated with events and organisations that have caused hurt and pain, and left individuals and community groups feeling silenced and marginalised. We want to take this moment to offer our solidarity, and our space to *listen* where you need to be heard. Even if this means being called out ourselves. Especially if this means being called out ourselves. We’re taking this as an opportunity to declare our dedication to reflection and improvement.
Any organisation in the contemporary music events space has ample opportunity and resources to educate themselves. We are a group committed to curating and hosting safe and inclusive events that celebrate women, artists of colour, and gender non conforming artists, but we are far from the only leaders in this space. In saying that, we have built resources, experience, and person-power as an organisation over the last three years, and we want to share these with the wider music community wherever possible. We are committed to cultivating conversation, and making change. This is not an attack or a call out, but rather a gentle reminder that none of us should stay silent when it comes to the issues mentioned in the article. We can all do better, and ignoring our failures does not result in progress.
We believe that advocating a safe space requires sensitivity, planning, and willingness for continual improvement. We hope to learn from our own experiences of failure on these fronts, and want to reassert that while we will always be open for collaboration with organisations wanting to progress, we will not be complicit in silence.