Music NB offers bystander intervention training in hopes of preventing sexual violence

Bystander intervention training is meant to make live music spaces safer. (Catherine Harrop/CBC - image credit)
Bystander intervention training is meant to make live music spaces safer. (Catherine Harrop/CBC - image credit)

Pushing back against live music's notorious party culture, Music New Brunswick hopes to prepare those hosting live music events to prevent or respond to incidents of sexual violence.

Music New Brunswick is now offering bystander intervention training created by Project SoundCheck, and presented by Sexual Violence New Brunswick.

The goal of the training is to show concert organizers, staff, security and volunteers how to intervene in situations involving sexual violence.

Project SoundCheck was created in Ottawa after research conducted at the Ottawa Hospital in 2014 showed that 25 per cent of cases of sexual assault treated at the hospital were connected to a large event or festival.

Penelope Stevens, Music NB's Industry Pathways program manager and a member of Fredericton-based band Motherhood. said she has seen firsthand as a touring musician that misogyny and bias is still present in the music industry.

According to Stevens, live music's association with party culture sometimes leads to the use of drugs or alcohol to perpetrate violence.

Stevens said a lot of good work is being done by the music industry to move away from that association with party culture. She has also experienced the benefits of the bystander intervention training herself.

"You have the tools to be able to recognize when something doesn't look right," said Stevens. "Or maybe there's something you need to investigate further and being able to know the approaches to approach a perpetrator or survivor and to be able to handle the situation with grace and without escalating it any further. It's all, like, very subtle work, but having the tools, yeah, it's definitely made a huge difference."

Bang On Photo
Bang On Photo

Andie Marks, project coordinator with Sexual Violence New Brunswick, said that statistics specific to festivals or events are not available for New Brunswick, but pointed out numbers can be misleading in a crime that is often not reported.

The training, according to Marks, is broken up into three sections. The first section defines sexual violence and helps the trainee understand what it might look like. The trainees then learn specific intervention skills, and then practise those skills in scenarios.

"We want to give them the tools to intervene to disrupt those behaviours in a way that feels safe for them," said Marks, to Information Morning Moncton. "As we want to empower them to use the different tools that we give them to talk to folks, or to ask questions, or to better support the people who are within the spaces."

Their next session is being offered online to those who work in live music spaces on March 13, and pre-registration is required via Music New Brunswick.