Safety at Performing Arts Venues

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We’re taking a slight detour with this blog to address what’s on the minds of many venue managers, designers and suppliers: The public’s sense of safety in and around performance venues.

For context, think back 93 years to 1924. It’s unlikely the seven building managers in Cleveland, OH, who had just formed Auditorium Managers – the precursor to The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) – could have envisioned today’s threats in concert halls and arenas. Understandably so, and at this year’s VenueConnect, the topic of venue safety took center stage.


Teamwork Against Terrorism. IAVM hosted its 92nd annual conference and trade show August 7 – 10 at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN. This year’s opening session included a keynote talk by Elaine Duke, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Duke’s talk was meant to offer “hope for the country in times of terrorist turmoil.” She pledged the support of her office in helping to keep venues safe for audiences.


Basic Safety Tips. During her keynote, Secretary Duke reiterated general measures venues can take to bolster security:

  • Connect with the local community, especially law enforcement
  • Have a plan for emergencies and suspicious packages
  • Conduct staff training
  • Stay vigilant about “see something, say something”

Of the more than 80+ educational sessions offered at this year’s VenueConnect, many discussed safety and security techniques and the technology that can enhance them. One session, led by Special Agent Adriaan Valk of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Memphis Division, focused on how to identify and solve safety problems. The key takeaway from his presentation was to have good people on your staff. Valk stated, “If you hire good people and train good people, they will be highly effective, they will make good decisions, and solve problems before you have to think about it.”


Why Focus on Safety at Concert Halls. No one can be 100% certain why concert halls and arenas alike are ever targets of attacks. Following the May attack at Manchester Arena, Alyssa Rosenberg with The Washington Post stated that individuals that carry out acts of terrorism are not simply launching assaults on Western culture. “They’re attempting to destroy the particular freedom that comes from surrendering to art, exploiting the very vulnerability that accompanies that surrender.”

Over the years many people have offered insights on why entertainment venues are targets for attacks. As organizations, such as IAVM, contine to keep venue safety at the forefront of their messaging and training, the individuals that run venues can continue to learn from each other and share their safety tips.


Offering Hope. While we can only touch on safety suggestions here, the take-away is that the venue industry must stay vigilant in keeping safety the first priority.

Secretary Duke, a frequent performing arts patron herself, said that we must also carry on in “the places where we share good memories and experience great things today.” She concluded her keynote address with these hopeful words.

“We cannot be afraid to live our lives. We should all be able to go and sing at the concerts and buy tickets to The Nutcracker.”


We Agree. The Wenger and J.R. Clancy team is committed to do our part in making every show a positive memory. We will continue to provide a full spectrum of safe, innovative, high-quality products and solutions for performing arts, which venue managers have trusted for generations.



Opening Session Keynote Speakers Offer Hope, Humor. IAVM website. 8/8/17

Rosenberg, Alyssa. Why terrorists attack concert halls. The Washington Post. 5/23/17. Link:

“See Something, Say Something”: Security Protocols and Safety Techniques Discussed at Venueconnect. IAVM website. 8/11/17

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