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Chapter 5 Safety in Numbers The challenges of managing free to attend events

DOI: 10.23912/9781915097101-5221

ISBN: 9781915097101

Published: May 2022

Component type: chapter

Published in: Events Mismanagement

Parent DOI: 10.23912/9781915097101-4980



Community events have long been a cornerstone of local life (Getz & Page, 2020; Ferdinand & Kitchen, 2017; Shone & Parry, 2019), but these events have evolved significantly in recent years to become annual traditions and signify a wider community identity (Antchak et al.,2019). The communities around the event expect the event to happen, that they will be able to attend without charge, and that it will be a safe and enjoyable experience. The societal expectation is that the local council (that is, the public sector) fund and manage the event (Richards & Palmer, 2010), creating a potential perception by some attendees that it is not their responsibility to either contribute or behave safely (Silvers & O’Toole, 2021). Therefore, for community events, the tangible challenge is ensuring safety and fulfilling expectations within the financial resources available, particularly when public funding can be limited. Most community events take place in public spaces, and the legal requirements around access to public spaces mean that controlling access, ingress and egress for free-to-attend events is challenging (Smith, 2016). Operationally, this may require significant resources, such as security personnel and stewards, and barriers and signage, to ensure securely controlled access. This creates the need to manage a delicate balance between staging a successful event without impinging upon public access. Simply put, event managers cannot restrict pedestrian access to the entirety of a public space, such as a high street or park (Smith, 2016), even though there may be allowances for closing off or controlling elements of a public space when delivering the event. Financially, delivering events in public spaces requires significant cost and personnel, requiring high levels of knowledge, expertise, and time. It is this tension between expectation and resource that results in many community events failing in terms of safety, expectations, or financial viability.

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Drakeley & Brown, 2022

Drakeley, C. & Brown, T. (2022) "Chapter 5 Safety in Numbers The challenges of managing free to attend events" In: Brown, T., Higson, P. & Gaston, L. (ed) . Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.23912/9781915097101-5221


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