Conversations on making musical spaces more inclusive are far from over; there's plenty more work to be done. But thanks to several thoughtful initiatives this year, we can continue to inch ever closer to making concert and festival spaces safe for everyone.
Colombian-Canadian musician Lido Pimienta achieved international fame after winning the Polaris Music Prize for her album La Papessa. Her commitment to making her shows safe for marginalized folks — including encouraging women of colour and people with disabilities to move to stage front — has only intensified with her quickly growing profile.
Toronto musician Aerin Fogel hosted the inaugural Venus Fest, which featured exclusively female and non-binary performers and staff, including performances by Weaves, Grouper and Madame Gandhi. Venus Fest joins established events like Calgary's Femme Wave and Harmony Bazaar in Lockeport, NS in creating more equitable festival lineups.
After Matthew Maxey went viral on YouTube with videos of his American Sign Language interpretations of hip-hop tracks, he founded DEAFinitely Dope to provide real-time signing at concerts. His work caught the eye of Chance the Rapper, who hired the organization as the official ASL interpreters on his latest tour.
This year, the Canadian Mental Health Association implored all public venues to carry naloxone kits in order to treat opioid overdoses. From staple Toronto venue Lee's Palace to juggernaut festivals VELD and Shambhala, staff have begun carrying naloxone kits and patrons have been encouraged to bring their own.
More Than Just the Music
In addition to throwing music events, organizations like Vancouver's New Forms Festival, Good Night Out Vancouver and the Alberta Electronic Music Conference have hosted workshops and panels on consent, anti-oppression and harm reduction, while Toronto's It's Not U It's Me has visually identifiable, trained volunteers available for crisis intervention.