Calling All Crows’ Maggie Arthur On The Nonprofit’s Efforts To Combat Sexual Assault & Harassment In Live Music

Maggie Headshot 1
Maggie Arthur | Director of Calling All Crows’ #HereForTheMusic campaign

A significant proportion of festivalgoers – the majority of which are women – have been impacted by the trauma of experiencing sexual harassment and/or assault at live events.

In recent years, more reports have come out documenting this conduct at festivals across the globe, including a 2018 study from YouGov that found 43% of women under age 40 have experienced unwanted sexual behavior at a UK festival, including unwelcome forceful dancing (29%), verbal harassment (23%), sexual assault while conscious (17%), flashing (11%), sexual assault while unconscious or asleep (6%), unwanted sexualized photography (5%) and rape (2%).

Nonprofit Calling All Crows is helping to be a part of a cultural shift in regard to how people are treated at live events, as well as within the workplace of the industry, by partnering with artists and festivals like Bonnaroo.

Calling All Crows was founded in 2008 by musician Chad Stokes (of roots rock band Dispatch) and tour manager Sybil Gallagher with a mission of connecting music fans with feminist movements for justice and equality. Inspired in part by the #MeToo movement, the nonprofit launched the #HereForTheMusic campaign in 2017 to look inward toward the music industry to combat sexual violence through its anti-harassment trainings, policy guides and tabling at live events.

The campaign has worked with more than 85 artists, festivals, venues and industry groups including boygenius, Goose, Ripe, California Roots Music & Arts Festival, Nashville’s EXIT/IN, House of Blues Boston and Event Safety Alliance.

Pollstar spoke with Maggie Arthur, director of #HereForTheMusic, to learn more. Arthur has spent more than half her life working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence including time at nonprofits, shelters and hotlines, as well as serving as a prevention educator.

: What’s a common misconception about sexual harassment?
Maggie Arthur: When we’re talking about sexual harassment those behaviors in our society are accepted as “not that big of a deal” compared to sexual assault or rape. However, those of us who work within the field of sexual violence and supporting survivors of violence know that the toll that experiencing repeated instances of sexual harassment, especially severe instances of harassment, can take a similar toll on your mental health and on your physical health as being sexually assaulted. And we found that for a lot of people who go see live music pretty regularly, they are experiencing these things pretty often.

There’s also the fact that it impacts the entire ecosystem because it is creating a culture where this type of harm can continue. And so not only is it just that one person who’s experiencing it over and over, when they go to different shows, but it’s everyone else who comes into the venue, who’s possibly gonna experience something like that, too, including the artists [and] the people who work there.

What’s the main goal of the #HereForTheMusic trainings?
In terms of how our current culture is one that has allowed for sexual harassment to permeate in live music spaces, the real goal of our training is to shift that culture instead to one where if they see that type of harm happening, people feel empowered and emboldened to react – to intervene or at the very least to reach out to the person who experienced the harm and check in to make sure that they’re okay and provide space for that person to process what happened.

Because all of that combined is what shifts the culture towards one where we no longer ignore this as a lesser form of violence. It shifts toward one where even if we can’t stop it in the moment, we’re still acknowledging that’s unacceptable – that’s not what we want in our live music experience and we’re not going to tolerate it any longer.

Our training focuses on bystander intervention because we firmly believe that we as a community can keep each other safe. And that’s the goal, to empower and embolden people to feel like they can keep each other safe.

You’re once again working with Bonnaroo. What’s the plan for 2023?
We have a long history with Bonnaroo. So not only are we gonna be tabling there, but we’ll also be providing a couple of fan workshops and we’re training Bonnaroo staff before the festival starts. We’re partnering with a local counseling center in Tennessee so that we can have 24-hour crisis support on festival grounds – not just if someone experiences sexual assault, but if anyone is experiencing any type of mental health crisis, there is a counselor who is there the whole weekend.

What other changes would you still like to see in the live industry?
One of the major risk factors for sexual violence in an environment in any setting, not just live music, is really traditional gender roles and limited roles for people who are not cis men.

But then, when violence is occurring, especially to those groups, then they no longer want to be a part of those communities because they don’t feel safe, and so that’s self fulfilling, right? So, there’s already limited roles for them … and then they get pushed out by experiencing harm. It’s just this constant fight.

And I’m not saying anything new – plenty of women and trans and non-binary people in the music industry have said this for years. But just to say this is part of why this is important because this is [one reason] we don’t see diversity in music, that this violence is contributing to who feels valued. Not just who feels safe, but who feels valued in these spaces. And so it just extends in so many ways, which is why I’m personally so passionate about it.

Visit for more information, to volunteer and donate. Concertgoers can access a free fan-oriented Sexual Violence and Prevention training. Industry pros can purchase access to a Sexual Violence Prevention and Response online training for your business, along with downloading free Policy Guides for venues and festivals.