How music venues can create a culture of safety

From panic buttons to stricter policies, concerned members of the Toronto music scene are working to make venues and festivals safer in concrete terms.
Several Toronto venues, like Double Double Land in Kensington Market, are making a concerted effort to keep their patrons safer. (Double Double Land/Twitter)

It's dark. It's late. It's loud. A lot can go undetected at your typical music venue. 

As sexual assault in the music industry becomes increasingly top of mind, more fans and artists are working to create safer spaces in concrete terms — from installing panic buttons in bathrooms to crafting stricter policies.

Today guest host Piya Chattopahyay checks in with journalist Kristel Jax and Double Double Land co-founder Daniel Vila, who are ​among those developing guidelines to better protect patrons of the Toronto music scene.

Jackie Fuchs, former bassist with The Runaways, joined Shad last July to discuss coming forward with allegations against the band's late manager, Kim Fowley, who she says sexually assaulted her in 1975. (Ronnie Fuchs)

WEB EXTRA | A troubling timeline. Sexual assault is an issue that affects all strata of the music industry, from tiny clubs to the top level. Here are just a few incidents that have bubbled to the surface in the past year alone. 

  • July 2015: In a bombshell interview with the Huffington Post's Highline site, Jackie Fuchs —a.k.a. Jackie Fox of '70s glam-punk group the Runaways — claims she was sexually assaulted by the band's manager, Kim Fowley, at a house party while she was incapacitated. In April 2016, Fuchs discussed the incident with Shad on q
  • September 2015: At a Danforth Music Hall show headlined by reunited grunge veterans L7, someone anonymously posts a "shit list" (in reference to the L7 song of the same name) in the bathroom, which lists off alleged sexual predators in the Toronto club scene, and encourages other people to add more names.
  • October 2015: A man is reportedly sexually assaulted at knifepoint in the bathroom of Toronto performance space Double Double Land during a party.
  • January 2016: Amber Coffman of the popular Brooklyn indie-rock band Dirty Projectors publicly calls out well-known publicist Heathcliff Berru on Twitter for alleged sexual misconduct. Coffman appeared on q a few days later to talk about it
  • February 2016: A judge dismisses Ke$ha's lawsuit against her former producer Dr. Luke and his Sony-affiliated label Kemosabe Records. The singer had filed the suit in an attempt to nullify her contract with Dr. Luke, alleging that the producer had subjected her to verbal, physical and sexual abuse. 
  • February 2016: Michael Gira of the critically acclaimed noise-rock band Swans is accused of rape by Larkin Grimm, a singer he once mentored. An acrimonious she said/he said exchange ensues in the press.
  • April 2016: A Swans show is announced for July 10 at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall. Its Facebook event page features comments from people who are upset the venue is hosting the show, in the light of the aforementioned rape allegations.
  • April 2016: Speaking to Rolling Stone about the Ke$ha case, Grimes claims that male producers she's worked with have demanded sexual favours in exchange for completing her tracks. 
  • June 2016: Toronto artists, promoters and venues (including Double Double Land) announce an alliance to implement measures to better ensure the safety of patrons. The alliance will be formally launched with a show on July 10 to counter the Swans show happening the same night at the Danforth Music Hall.