Partnering for safe and inclusive festival space

On June 8, the co-founder and creative director of Arboretum Arts Festival stepped down from his position. Since that time, we’ve sought advice and support from community organizations and individual experts to help us assess, investigate, take appropriate measures and move forward with a safe and inclusive festival space for 2018, and beyond.

That outreach has led us to partnering with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), the Sexual Assault Network (SAN) and Project SoundCheckTM to define our accountability processes, not just for the festival, but for our organization.

As a first step, we want to invite you to speak of your experience and give us feedback using a newly launched Project SoundCheckTM anonymous reporting tool. This is a way for survivors to safely voice their experiences or for anyone to provide advice, constructive criticism or other feedback to our organization. SAN will be providing a report to us with the feedback from the tool, and we will be establishing next steps with them which we will communicate with you. We believe that this, combined with our research on best practices, will continue to help us learn from the past and understand how to best move forward. The form is available HERE

With BON-FIRE 2018 quickly approaching, we are also working with Project SoundCheckTM to increase our safety and inclusivity measures. Having engaged with them through training and resources since 2015, we are also working with Project SoundCheckTM this year to undertake a festival specific safety audit and ensure that we have a safe space tent for the duration of the festival. We will also be providing sexual assault prevention training to our staff, volunteers and security in advance of this year’s festival.

One thing that has made an impression on us over the past month is that this process is not easy, and it’s not something that will be done neatly and quickly. It will take time and work. It is something we will be doing in tandem with our festival planning this year and beyond. Although we realize this isn’t going to please everyone, we are sincere in our efforts and are dedicated to being transparent about the changes that will result from public feedback and work with our community partners.

Finally, we’d like to stress that we are a small, volunteer-driven, organization. Although we are working with knowledgeable individuals and organizations, we are very open to hearing from you. If you think we need to improve, we want to know how. Please get in touch with us directly at or through the Project SoundCheckTM anonymous reporting tool HERE.  

Thank you for your patience, support, and willingness to work with us to ensure a positive and safe festival experience.

Rolf Klausener