Moving Forward After The Attacks

France experienced a series of vicious terrorist attacks in recent months. Live entertainment professionals are demonstrating unity and conducting business in a way that sends a pointed message: We are not afraid.  

Photo: AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Jesse Hughes, right, and Julian Dorio, kneeling, pay their respects to the victims who died at Paris' Bataclan concert hall.

Audrey Guerre, coordinator of French industry association Live DMA, told Pollstar that its members came to that conclusion at this year’s general assembly in May. “Live DMA members seem to agree on the fact that more security is impracticable and useless, it should not be the heart of the topic, although we understand that the audience needs to feel safe.

“The music venues seem very much concerned about how to develop their activities and program so their venue will remain a safe and familiar place for all citizens, where they can meet people, practice and enjoy all kinds of music: a venue inclusive and connected to its population and to its local environment.” Live DMA’s latest survey showed that the country’s music venues put on a very diversified program. “‘Only’ 20 percent are ‘just’ programming music, which means that 80 percent of them are also working on educational activities, have rehearsal studios, etc.”

It would be more effective to use educational activities that could inform about and tackle the root causes of terrorism, rather than fight its symptoms through ever-increased police and military spending.

Stéphanie Thomas of Fedelima, France’s association of contemporary music venues and projects, says: “I wouldn’t say that ‘more security is impracticable or useless.’ After the attacks, it was a necessity and an evidence to question security in venues, and to search for ways to increase the feeling of security for the audience and for the professionals.”

To facilitate this, the French government, the city of Paris and the national center for variety CNV raised a fund to help venues get the appropriate security equipment, including more staff at the entrances, and to compensate them for losses generated by people staying away from concerts in the aftermath of the attacks.

Thomas still agrees that increasing security was “more of a dressing-up than a cure. And [finding] a cure is definitely much more important. Our venues are spaces of freedom, open-mindedness, culture and education. They are somewhat of a link between people. Places where you learn to respect and live with others.”

According to Thomas, politicians did not recognize that. She deems spending money on “equipment” futile: “How can you prevent a heavily armed man to kill when he’s decided to kill? Even with the best security system this man could do maximum damage. No one, no place, nothing is really safe from terrorists’ methods.”

On the other hand, Thomas adds, “you can decide to attack evil at its root, and help educate people though culture, through music, through coups between social, educational and cultural actors; by showing an interest and a respect for what people are, for their native culture, and integrate them, as well as you can.

“That’s what music venues have been doing since the beginning of their existence. That’s what must be supported by our European, national and locals governments.”

Thomas is convinced that the best way to encourage people not to be afraid is to tell them “that we respect them. That the live experience is one of the last real experiences of freedom you can share with thousands of people. And that this sharing is the key to a better world!”