Henrik Bondo Nielsen: 25 Seminars with the YES Group

Henrik Bondo Nielsen is a highly experienced festival organizer. He has been a part of the Roskilde Festival in Denmark since 1980 and has been part of the festival’s management team since 1986. Henrik has primarily worked on production, logistics and health and safety and is currently head of 2 of Roskilde Festival’s 5 divisions. Henrik is a member of the board of the Danish festival and venue association Dansk Live and is also a member of several national committees who work with event safety in general and accident prevention. In 2006, Henrik took the initiative to assemble the European festival organization’s (Yourope) security management for networking and experience exchange. It became the start of the collaboration today known as YES Group.

The origins of the YES Group can be traced back to the ILMC (International Live Music Conference) in 1999 (the year that the Purple Guide had been released), after a front-of-stage accident at a festival in Europe. This combination of events led to a Yourope members meeting, which decided that Europe needed a group to focus on health and safety and thus the ILMC Safety Focus Group (SFG) was formed to look at improvements in health and safety across the continent.

In 2000 there was an accident at Roskilde, where nine people lost their lives, and the SFG put together a draft pan-European policy for health and safety, which created much discussion and led to a health and safety seminar taking place in Scandinavia in 2001. Research projects were enthusiastically developed, but there was no EU funding available. In an attempt to counteract this problem, the SFG contacted Bucks New University (BNU), where Professor Chris Kemp was in a senior management position, as it was thought that by having a university partner, the SFG may be able to formalise their funding and education elements.

It was clearly evident that there was a need for a health and safety policy for those attending events as well as those working at them, so risk assessment tools were developed. These were very well received through the European funded Safety Rocks project. Unfortunately, there was no continuation funding for the project. Even though the Safety Rocks project was not as successful as it could have been, it had created a network of like-minded individuals from across Europe, who were looking to widen their network and continue the discussion regarding health and safety matters. Yourope was approached to take the ILMSFG under their wing and the first European Health and Safety Seminar took place in Groningen in 2006, where the YES Group was officially formed.

Today, the YES Group Steering Committee has seven members from a mixture of backgrounds; Professor Chris Kemp (Mind Over Matter Consultancy), Henrik Nielsen (Roskilde Festival), Gerard Duykeren (TSC), Andreas Mestka (Open Air St Gallen), Sabine Funk (IBIT), Pascal Viot (Paleo) and Ralf Zimme (IBIT), that decide activities and content based on the wishes and needs of the YES Group members.

It is the YES Group’s ambition to continue to develop­ a strong network that can professionalise health and safety in the live music industry and support what is happening at a practical level, making the YES Group’s delivery much more than a biannual seminar, it has become a real force for change.

The YES Group has carried out numerous research projects (e.g. barrier pressure project, pressure suit #1, pressure suit #2) and extensively visited festivals taking surveys and developing reports, which are brought back to the group for discussion and knowledge sharing. The YES Group are often invited to provide panels at Europe’s most prominent festival and event conferences.

The YES Group must now look to the future and asks what needs to be addressed over the next 25 editions?

If you have any suggestions regarding issues of health and safety that need consideration, discussion or development, please don’t hesitate to contact; hayley.rogers@momconsultancy.com.

Or for further details regarding the work of YES Group and how to become a member of Yourope, please visit www.yourope.org.