Business News Legal Live Business Top Stories

Astroworld task force sets out proposals to prevent future festival tragedies

By | Published on Thursday 21 April 2022


A task force set up by Texas Governor Greg Abbott following last year’s Astroworld tragedy has published a nine page report proposing a number of changes for how major events are regulated in the US state. Those changes, it says, will help to ensure that dangerous incidents like that which occurred during the Travis Scott founded festival in Houston last November can never happen again.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott’s headline set at his festival on 5 Nov. A number of investigations were launched following the festival, including Houston Police Department’s criminal investigation, all seeking to identify if decisions made by the festival’s organisers and/or local authorities before or during the event contributed to the tragedy.

Abbott announced that he had recruited a state-level task force to run its own investigation in the week following Astroworld 2021. Launching that task force, he said at the time: “Live music is a source of joy, entertainment, and community for so many Texans – and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security. To ensure that the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld festival never happens again in the Lone Star State, I am forming the Texas Task Force On Concert Safety”.

A key finding of the task force in its new report is that the processes via which events currently secure licences from local authorities are inconsistent across the state, and that there should be a universal template and checklist that are used by counties throughout Texas when issuing event permits.

There should also be “clearly outlined triggers” that would automatically cause a show to be stopped and a clear chain of command during large events.

A key criticism made in the wake of the Astroworld tragedy was that Scott performed for half an hour after police had declared a “mass-casualty event”, and many questions were asked about whose responsibility it was to halt the proceedings once the scale of the crowd surge became apparent.

Elsewhere, the report highlights the need for adequate training of security guards, although it doesn’t set out any specific guidelines for what constitutes adequate.

It also advises that promoters work with artists to ensure that fans are actively encouraged the behave in a safe way. Scott, of course, has been criticised for doing the opposite of that in the past, although not specifically at last year’s Astroworld event.

The President of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Marty Lancton, who was also a member of Abbott’s task force, told the Houston Chronicle that the report sets out “solid solutions for preventing another tragedy”, adding that he’ll work with the state’s government to make sure the proposed rule changes become law in Texas.

“There would have been no lives lost if the policies contained in this report had been in place last fall”, he went on, “especially the requirement of a unified command and control for all first responders working the event”.

With a number of investigations underway into last year’s Astroworld crowd surge – not to mention the flood of litigation filed in relation to the incident – there are likely to be plenty more proposals made in the future for how events in Texas and beyond could be better managed to ensure the safety of all those who attend.