Access Report into the events of
Slam Dunk Festival 2023
For an 'easy read' version of this statement please click here.
Thank you for your valued feedback and for allowing us the time to fully investigate the events of Slam Dunk Festival 2023. We have been working closely with our internal teams, and many external partners including members and moderators of the Slam Dunk Access Group to address issues and find solutions going forward.
We would also like to take this time to wholeheartedly apologise for the issues that have been raised to us and we are deeply sorry that customers did not have the experience which we all hoped for. Continuing to make Slam Dunk Festival as accessible as it can be for all fans is something we strive for year on year. As most of you know, we onboarded a new full access team to manage everything from initial applications through to the event days, whilst we believe this team worked incredibly hard and did a fantastic job overall, we recognise that there are still clear issues which need to be addressed and resolved for our future events.
Below we have addressed the main issues at both sites, we are aware that there were other things reported to us post event that we need to improve and action and please be rest assured that we are finding solutions to them, and they haven’t been ignored or forgotten about just because they are not listed below.
Security team leaders were given a briefing prior to the event days to relay to staff members with strict instructions and guidelines regarding the platforms. This included who should be permitted on to them and contained helpful guidance reminding staff members that not all disabilities are visible and if someone has an access wristband it means they have already gone through the thorough application process and should be permitted to use the access facilities, no questions asked.
Unfortunately, the information in the briefing was not fully adhered to by some security staff resulting in the platforms being used by people who should not have been granted permission, meaning the strict system we had put in place to manage the platforms’ capacities failed. The total capacity of all the platforms combined was enough to accommodate everyone that had a wristband; however, we understand some artists were more popular than others which meant some became full more quickly than others.
Once the platforms reached capacity a one in one out system was operated, however we also found that security were not accounting for Personal Assistants that had left the platform meaning that some PAs were unable to re-enter the platform to re-join their guests.
As a result of the platforms being very busy, the toilets at the platforms became very full early in the day and were at a poor standard. We are aware that the access team were contacting the site team to empty and clean them as soon as possible, this was eventually actioned but not in the timely manner we would have expected, and for that we apologise. Further to this, we also acknowledge that there should be more toilets available at the platform.
We wholeheartedly apologise for any inconvenience or stress caused by the toilet facilities at the events this year. This was never something we would want any of our customers to experience whilst at the events and we understand how devastating this must have been. We believe some toilets in North got full quickly due to them not being emptied overnight after the event that was on the day before, combined with the number of people using them. This is now a top priority for the overnight site team for next year, and again we apologise that this happened this year which had severe consequences.
We were also extremely saddened to receive feedback after the events from access customers who had experienced truly awful ableism at the hands of members of security. Please be assured that the reports of the abhorrent behaviour by some members of security have been passed on to the relevant companies to be dealt with internally. We would like to take this time to apologise to anyone who experienced any issues with security on the day. We work hard to make Slam Dunk Festival an enjoyable experience for everyone attending and the comments or actions of select members of security do not reflect our values in the slightest.
From next year, we will be implementing a different system for the viewing platforms. We are going to create an ambulant access area in front of each platform where access customers are welcome to either bring their own chair or use the chairs provided. This area will be for any access customers that do not have any severe mobility issues or just need a less busy space to enjoy the show. The raised viewing platforms will now strictly be for access customers who use wheelchairs or have severe mobility issues. The platforms will then operate on a first come first served basis, and areas on the platforms will be clearly marked and leave a clear route for customers to enter and exit, with a re-enter policy for PAs also being actioned, this will be monitored by the security members on the platform.
The option to apply for either the viewing platform or ambulant viewing area will be available on the access requirements application form that goes live when we go on sale.
We are going to significantly increase the number of accessible toilets across the sites, situated at the platforms, info points and main toilet blocks. We are also going to add standard toilets alongside the accessible toilets at the platforms and info points and introduce separate baby changing units to prevent customers with children using the access toilets.
We have also made the decision to hire a separate specialised security team to be positioned at the platforms, who will be stationed alongside our dedicated access team. This security team will be briefed in person, by the internal Slam Dunk access team to ensure all policies are being adhered to.
As you may be aware, the number of catering units did not cope with the number of customers we had on site which made the queues for food unacceptable. We understand this situation was even worse for our access customers for which we are truly sorry. We are working to improve the situation for all next year by increasing the number of food units, but we will be enforcing a system for access customers by working with our catering provider to also create a queue jump process for those with access wristbands.
This system will also be put in place for merch as this is something that has also been highlighted in the feedback we received. A queue jump system for shuttle busses is currently in operation and will continue to be, however we now understand that during this year’s events this information was not passed to all staff members, and we apologise if this impacted anyone’s journey to or from the festival.
We can confirm there was a system already in place for the signing tent, although it has also become clear that some security had not been briefed correctly to facilitate that, to which we apologise.
Similarly, bars already operate an access lane, but we now recognise this was not managed in the correct way. The decision was made to mix the access queue with the soft drinks only queue, which certainly was not the correct one. Going forward there will be a separate, access customers only queue at each bar, and we will ensure it is staffed correctly by security staff.
For our future events, our dedicated access team will visit all on site facilities and services ahead of the event and check that the correct information and policies have been received and understood by all staff, including those addressed above.
North – Arrival and Car Park
We created a new check-in point for 2023 which was separate from the main wristband exchange points to create a more relaxed check-in experience for customers. This entrance was also accessible on a direct tarmac route from the access car park. The access car park was in the same place as it has been since we moved to Temple Newsam, and it was sufficient for the number of access passes we issued.
However, we unfortunately found due to many cars being parked there that were not authorised to do so, the access car park filled up very quickly. The cars that were parked were a mixture of vehicles from the event the previous day and several cars that managed to park without a pass before security were deployed to their positions early on the event morning.
We opened an overflow car park as soon as the access car park reached capacity. This was a short distance away, next to the main pick-up and drop-off point, it was still a lot closer to the entrance than the general car park, however we apologise for this being further away than the main access car park.
For future events, the access car park will be exclusively for customers with an access car parking pass, which we will be sending out in advance. These will need to be displayed clearly in the windscreen of your vehicle and only vehicles with a pass will be permitted to park. The parking passes will also have clear instructions on how to locate the access car park.
Next year we will also be increasing the number of check-in points for access customers to alleviate queues, these check in points will be clearly signposted and there will also be toilets positioned for those queuing to gain entry.
South Car Park
Thank you for your feedback on the new access car park for Slam Dunk Festival South. Whilst we had a very small number of people let us know that they couldn’t locate it from the arrival instructions or were unfortunately sent the wrong way by security, overall, we are very pleased to hear that the new car park location was received very well. With that in mind, we have confirmed with the venue and our traffic management team that the car park will remain in that location for 2024.
As with the North, the South access car park will be exclusively for access customers with a valid car parking pass, which again will be sent out in advance with clear instructions on how to locate the access car park printed on them.
Once again, we would like to apologize for the problems that were faced at this year’s festival, and please trust us when we say we will do better. We are an independent company that has built up a loyal following of passionate music fans that we love to invite back to Slam Dunk Festival year on year. We would be extremely grateful if you were to give us another chance and come back and see the changes we are making for 2024 for you all, in person. We will continue to have a close relationship with the Access Group on Facebook to understand and digest your comments regarding the event, we invite you to join this group if you have not already done so. As well as being a safe place to provide feedback it is also a valued community to share knowledge and support surrounding Slam Dunk and beyond.
You can join here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/286334659530933
Thank you again for your patience and understanding.
Team Slam Dunk