Security Concerns Rise After Recent Shootings
The senseless murder of Christina Grimmie has sullied the spirits of many around the nation. Artists and musicians are facing a tough question: how secure are they when interacting with their fans?
What Happened to Christina?
Christina Grimmie was a rising star. She began her music journey as a YouTube singer, then struck gold after appearing on "The Voice." Her talent inspired many, garnering a large fanbase, and she made an appearance at the Plaza Live venue in Orlando. During a routine meet-and-greet with fans after the show, Christina was shot and killed. As the investigation is still underway, and the horrific shooting at the Pulse nightclub has since dominated the news, details of Christina’s murder are now slowly coming to light.
How Secure Was the Venue?
Digital Music News recently published an open letter from Kirk Colvin, the former manager of the Plaza Live (who was not present during the incident). He explained that the Plaza Live venue had changed management on June 1st, transferring responsibilities from Colvin’s team to the Orlando Philharmonic board. Colvin wrote:
“...It was not publicly known that the entire management team was replaced by the Orlando Philharmonic board on June 1st for the stated reason “to go in a different direction” and I believe the replacements hired were completely inexperienced and ill prepared to manage the Plaza. Given my history of saving the Plaza from bankruptcy and building it into one of Florida’s most respected concert venues, I can only assume this was done to cut costs or worse due to personality conflicts with board members. Sadly, this tragedy occurred the very first concert managed by the new staff.”
While there has been no evidence yet to corroborate his statements of relaxed security and board inexperience, it’s still sends a painful message that not all venues are experienced with security.
In response to his allegations, the Orlando Philharmonic released the following statement:
“Like everyone else in the community, the board and staff at the Plaza Live Venue are deeply saddened by the tragic events of Friday evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost as well as those who witnessed and aided in the recovery after this senseless act.
We are closely working with The Orlando Police Department on this active law enforcement investigation and therefore necessarily defer specific questions to OPD’s Public Information Officer.”
Again, the investigation is ongoing as to exactly how the killer was able to get so close to Christina Grimmie with a gun.
How Has this Affected Musicians?
Christina Grimmie’s death, and the Pulse nightclub shooting, have revealed grievous errors in our security system. Somehow fans are still able to bring weapons to these events. In fact, just last month, a man was shot at a T.I. concert, prompting the venue to evacuate.
Artists are beginning to challenge security protocols as well. Nick Jonas had this to say on Elvis Duran and the Morning Show: "It's something that needs to be addressed across the board and it's not just specifically in meet and greets ... With music venues, I think there are some protocols that can be taken to make it safer, not only for the artists but for the fans."
The band Pantera posted a Facebook message, demanding that venues be more serious about their security, especially after losing one of their band members in the same way as Christina. “After Dime's murder, we all prayed that our industry (i.e. club owners & promoters) would do whatever they needed to do to protect artists from gun wielding fanatics. Sadly, that's not the case and another rising star had to pay the consequences with her life. SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!"
Heightened Security Responses
In response, conventions and concerts are considering heightened security for the foreseeable future. The organizers of VidCon, a weekend convention for YouTube stars and their viewers, published a blog post, stating:
“As you might expect, security at VidCon will be different this year and we wanted to let you know what that means for you. In previous years we partnered with local law enforcement to ensure rapid response to emergencies and this year will be no different, but we have requested an enhanced presence, so expect to see more uniformed officers. Further, we will have undercover police patrolling the entire event. Every panel will have at least three security guards, and the event as a whole will have over 450 security officers in attendance. This is nearly twice as many as last year.”
The post announced further details of where extra security will be placed, and was sad to report that they would no longer allow fans to give letters and gifts, or ask creators questions after panels.
How Will This Transform Performance Culture?
Unfortunately, the tragedies of Christina Grimmie and the Orlando nightclub are not the only concert shootings in recent memory. In November 2015, terrorists stormed the Bataclan venue in Paris, France, opening fire on hundreds of concert-goers. Given these incidents, it’s understandable that artists and fans alike may not feel completely safe in public venues and we can already see the signs of a changing perception. Politicians are lobbying changes to gun ownership laws. Artists may start to limit contact with their fans. Conventions negotiate for more law enforcement, and attendees are put under a microscope before they can enjoy events.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Christina Grimmie and her family, as well as with the victims of the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting. We also extend these thoughts and prayers to any and all victims who were killed doing what they love: enjoying music and live performances. We can only hope that these incidents can bring about change for the better, to create more positive experiences for fans and artists alike.