Can Tin the Park be saved?
In June we asked if the clock was ticking for TITP and looked at some of the reasons why that may be.
At the time we had some support for the article, but the majority of online responses were unsupportive.
We were told that the festival provided jobs and that we were endangering the economy by airing a negative view of the direction it was taking.
We were accused of belittling teenagers, of middle class snobbery, of ignoring the positives, and of harbouring a grudge against the organisers of the event.
Obviously we would refute these claims, and who said sharing an opinion was easy anyway?
The article, in our opinion, simply took an overview of the issues the festival has had over the last few years, factual issues, and considered the outcome if it continued down the path it appears to be on.
And now as we sit post festival casting an eye over the msm/social media responses to the tragic deaths – currently three - and the police investigations into two allegations of rape, we are in the unhappy position of being shown to be right in the cause and effect argument of why the event is quickly becoming the one that stands head and shoulders above others as the bad boy of the UK festival season.
The one that has been dubbed ‘every parent’s nightmare’.
It is actually doubtful that there would be anyone left that wouldn’t accept that these are in fact dire days for the festival.
Unless you are of course Geoff Ellis; the man behind T, whose job it must be to paint as rosy a picture as possible.
Of course there are those who still wave the T flag and lean towards quoting statistics to push the view that it is not as bad as others state, and that is understandable, if a little disrespectful when we think about lives being lost, but we do get where they are coming from.
For instance they claim that a town with the same population has the same amount of incidents and recorded crimes than the festival does over a weekend is often touted.
To be fair we have yet to see any evidence to support that, but even if it was provided the demographic make up of the festival is very different so the findings wouldn’t be relevant.
The point being that if you want to throw stats around it has to be like for like and we are not aware of a town with 70.000 inhabitants who are of the main age bracket of the TITP crowd with a sizeable amount treating the weekend as the alcohol and drug fuelled party holiday of the year.
The closest we could come to doing a like for like comparison is to look at other festivals, but that doesn’t offer good news for TITP either.
Glastonbury for instance had double the amount of attendees and half the amount of reported crimes.
Again we couldn’t claim that the Glastonbury crowd is reflective of that of TITP though.
What we need is another festival of a similar size and that attracts a younger clientele and then comparisons can be made.
Until then there is no real reason to push a stat unless it is to just to exercise some confirmation bias, and anyway as Mark Twain said - although he passed it off as a Disraeli quote - ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics’ so maybe we shouldn’t really focus on them at all, and instead just consider the factual news that is being reported and the anecdotal stories shared by those who were there.
News stories such as :
and the anecdotal ones from pages on facebook such as Tintheparktruth
Stories such as this one.
"I could get into trouble for this post.
This year over 100 first aid volunteers gave up their time to provide medical care to T in the Park festival goers. Apparently we find this stuff fun…
Did you know that one volunteer was threatened by someone with a knife?
We were punched. Kicked. Vomited on. Bled on. Had cups of urine thrown over us. We received verbal, racial and homophobic abuse while working upwards of 12 hour shifts.
We also inserted breathing tubes into people’s airways because the amount of ecstasy and ketamine they ingested rendered them unable to breathe.
We applied pressure to bleeding wounds. We knelt in mud, inches thick to hold unconscious and unresponsive people in the recovery position while being soaked by torrential rain.
We reassured those who had no phone and had lost their friends.
We held down people who were high on MDMA so they didn’t hurt themselves, or others.
We pulled stretchers and carried equipment through what seemed like miles of ankle deep mud.
I’m not writing this for you to give us praise because that’s not why we do this. But please know, we did a good job in some really challenging conditions.
British Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid volunteers, and Scottish Ambulance Service crews are a credit to their organisations and definitely do not deserve to be publicly slated because one girl wasn’t happy that we wouldn’t drive her to the car park because she had a sore knee.
Do you know how many hundreds of people asked us the same thing?
However, our sincere condolences are with the families and friends of the two young people who died at this year’s festival, and of course the volunteer teams who fought tirelessly to save their lives."
And now that these links provided have been considered, and the first hand account, of many, have been digested, what we, the general public, need to do is consider what the reaction should be.
The one being shouted loudest at the moment is that the festival should be pulled.
That however delivers one solution, but it also creates other problems.
There is the economic issue, the jobs that would be lost, the artistic opportunities lost (although we aren’t really saying much coming from the t-Break stage over the last decade), the knock on effect on other festivals that are currently verging on being problem free as the fans of a weekend of debauchery at T look for an alternative event to attend.
And we are sure you could add far more.
Even if it is just to say why should you lose out on a weekend you enjoy just because there are problems that you have not contributed to?
So with that in mind what can be done rather than cancel the whole event?
Here are some solutions that we have thought of, and others that are floating about out there on the internet.
Prior to sharing them we would like to say that we are just spit balling ideas.
None should be taken as a firm stance.
They are just suggestions and some have more support than others within the NHC team.
1) Over 18s/21’s only
We have no idea how viable this would be, and while it would not stop all the incidents a more mature crowd would presumably not indulge in the worst of the behaviour.
Is it discriminating against all the sensible or semi sensible (we have all been there) teens though?
Of course it is, but the position that if you can't play nice you can't play at all has reared its head often enough for it to be considered.
2) No camping on site.
The upside would be that with no onsite camping satellite campsites provided by the organisers and independent sources could be used with them being smaller and more easily covered by security.
Attendees could choose from family friendly and glamping options to more party orientated sites that act like fringe festivals with the security tailored as applicable to them all.
Consideration would have to be made about travelling and road congestion, but is it doable?
If people have to be off site by a certain time then they would have to remain compos mentis with that also reducing the opportunities for people to get ‘mad with it’ onsite.
It also gives the clean up crews a clear run at getting the site ready for the next day.
3) A genre specific line up.
Three days with each tailored to a genre.
For instance one is for the DJs and the dance orientated crowd, another for indie rock, and the third can be dedicated to a smorgasbord of legendary acts.
Or whatever people want.
A mini Download day, a Creamfields.
4) Zero tolerance on violence.
This shouldn’t need to be said, but as there does seem to be more fist fights and general mayhem than other festivals it is probably time for a clampdown.
One strike and you are out.
This will have to be a policing issue.
Security teams could be issued with go-pros to record evidence and pass it on with the police making follow up investigations similar to how football hooliganism is approached.
5) A wider reaching solution, and one that we put forward on another article here
A Scottish festival minister being created to oversee our festivals whose remit is to liaise with festival organisers, the police and the communities where the events are held to ensure public safety and environmental issues are focused on.
As mentioned these are just some ideas and we don’t claim to have a one size fits all answer to the issues that we are all concerned about, but please do consider them as options that can act as catalysts to further discussion.
Banning T in the Park, just seem too easy.
Let’s not throw it away when it is fixable, but with that said it is not just the public's opinions that will matter.
Geoff Ellis, DF, we are watching you. Lead by example.