Event Safety Alliance Nick Karlin
Event Safety Summit 2016

Live Design Award Winner: Event Safety Alliance

Live Design recognizes the Event Safety Alliance for its selfless work in keeping the industry safe.

The third annual Live Design Awards honor a stellar group of theatre, opera, and concert designers as well as a leading architectural lighting design firm and a non-profit association. This year’s winners include: Es Devlin for brave new worlds in scenic design for concerts and theatre; the design team for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812 (Bradley King, lighting; Mimi Lien, sets; Nicholas Pope, sound; Paloma Young, costumes) for creating a truly exhilarating theatrical experience; Jonathan Deans for being a sound designer extraordinaire and winner of the second annual Abe Jacob Award for Sound Design; Tal Yarden for pushing the boundaries with cutting-edge projection and video design; Sooner Routhier and Robert Long for masterful teamwork for concert design and production; UVLD for continued excellence in corporate lighting design; and the Event Safety Alliance for selfless work in keeping our industry safe.

The 2017 Live Design Awards will be presented during a reception in New York City on Monday, June 12, sponsored by GLP and Meyer Sound.

Event Safety Alliance

From tragedy came the Event Safety Alliance (ESA). Following three weather-related staging accidents during the summer of 2011, a coalition of live event industry leaders created the ESA in January 2012 with the goal of transforming the way the industry approaches safety. The Alliance promotes “life safety first” as a priority in the industry, crafting tools and distributing information and guidance to help event organizers provide a safe environment for both industry professionals and guests. “Shifting the paradigm of safety over the long term is a Herculean task that requires the involvement of everyone within the industry,” explains ESA founder and chairman Jim Digby.

ESA has developed programs to address many aspects of live event operations including entry-level safety awareness (Event Safety Access Training) and severe weather contingency planning (Severe Weather Summit). They also host the annual Event Safety Summit where industry professionals gather to discuss all manner of safety measures from structural engineering to emergency communications. One of the ESA’s most significant achievements is The Event Safety Guide, which compiles reasonable operational practices from the industry’s top professionals, addressing life safety standards in a broad range of applications, from weather preparedness to personal protective equipment. Live Design recognizes the Event Safety Alliance for its selfless work in keeping the industry safe.

Industry professionals directly impacted by the Event Safety Alliance’s noble mission share their thoughts on the ESA’s Live Design Award.

Nick Karlin

I was introduced to the Event Safety Alliance through my work as chronicler of a live event gone bad: The Station nightclub fire of 2003. The ESA team invited me into their fold in 2014 to present what went wrong at The Station, so that its gathering of live event professionals might learn from others’ worst conduct as they stocked their own toolbox of reasonable practices.

I was awed by the professionals at the ESA Event Safety Summit—producers, promoters, venue managers, roadies, riggers, insurers—all committed to transforming the culture of live event safety in every phase of planning and execution. From organizers of major festivals to tour managers of Phish and Linkin Park, all the gorillas of the industry were there. They came not to brainstorm profits but to learn from past tragedies so that every audience returns home both dazzled and safe. 

ESA members radiate enthusiasm for their craft and excitement for sharing it with audiences, but they display equal concern for the safety of their brethren, whose time-warping transport, assembly, and rigging of complex entertainment environments make the magic possible.

The evolution of ESA’s Event Safety Guide (fast becoming the industry’s planning bible), and the ESA Severe Weather Summit are just two examples of the Alliance’s groundbreaking work. This kind of progress in a few short years is no accident, if you’ll excuse the phrase. It’s the product of charismatic leadership by Jim Digby and hard work by ESA’s officers, board, and committee members. They’re all still kids at heart, buzzed about their craft, but they’re also the adults in the room when it comes to safety.

—John Barylick, author of Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert

Nick Karlin

Event Safety Summit 2016

The Event Safety Alliance has brought together a large group of individuals with one goal in mind: safety. They aren’t focused on one particular aspect of safety but encompass the entire venue from structures to cyber security, fire safety to crowd management. I am particularly excited about the Event Safety Working Group, which will start creating ANSI Standards for use by companies and individuals, which will bring everyone onto the same page moving forward. As someone who has dedicated his career to designing safe event structures, I’m proud to support the Event Safety Alliance and am looking forward to what the future holds for the organization.

—Jeffrey M. Reder, PE, principal at Clark Reder Engineering

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