A Hedley concert at TD place started this conversation. Photo: CC, Pjposullivan.

Venues should offer refunds, but cancelling performances too extreme

A Hedley show last week at TD Place has opened a debate about how venues should handle performances of groups after sexual assault allegations have been made. In light of the allegations, some fans demanded a refund, and others are saying that venues should cancel performances of such bands and artists altogether.

This is an admittedly tricky issue, but the best thing that entertainment venues can do is to provide refunds to fans who ask for one. Until those allegations turn into charges, it’s better for venues to give fans the right to choose their response, and decide whether or not they want to see a band that has had sexual assault allegations made against them.

Furthermore, there needs to be some sort of policy in place throughout the entertainment industry. Large scale venues and entertainment chains should create corporate policies about how to handle these types of situations. Venues can do a lot through these policies to change a music industry culture that is frequently predatory.

Once charges are filed and arrests or criminal proceedings take place, it’s time for venues to take a different policy, and not give those groups a platform. While giving a platform to groups that have these accusations and this reputation is irresponsible on the part of venues, there should be a tiered system of response, because  cancelling a performance without legal proceedings is a measure that’s too extreme.

Choice is the important factor in this, and it’s necessary to create a climate where fans can choose how they want to respond to allegations of sexual assault involving their favourite bands. Cancelling a performance removes the choice from fans, in an instance when it would be far more powerful for fans to make their opinions on sexual assault known. Through this the mood and support of fans can be made clear, and send a much more powerful message than cancelling a performance too soon in the game.