With a background in nursing and a recent switch to urban planning, Stacey Forrester is both fascinated and passionate about the role space plays in healthy outcomes. This comes into play in the night life and annual festivals. Working alongside Bass Coast for the past 6 years, while also starting the Good Night Out project with her feminist soulmate, Ashtyn Bevan almost 3 years ago, it’s clear she’s on a mission. Her motive to make the nightlife and festival a safe a space. Make sure you check out their guide to safer spaces and how touring artists can get involved HERE!
Can you share a bit about your background in Harm reduction and how that plays a role in your current work?
“My educational background is in health care and I worked in harm reduction for almost a decade so with Bass Coast, it emerged as a natural extension of my work passion, allowing it to spill over into a community I care deeply about. Festival harm reduction allows me to explore my fascination with the built environment and health / well-being….what happens at festivals that results in people feeling connected, creative and safe to express themselves? Is it the people? Is it the “container?” is it both….How can that translate to life outside of the festival? What education can patrons receive here, that will help them to keep themselves and each other safe at events the rest of the year?? These are all things I am constantly trying to explore in my approach.” – Stacey
In your opinion how do art and music influence social norms?
So …space (a be it festival,bar, family holiday dinner) is never “neutral” and how it is decorated,(not just literally – but what we fill it with) influences how people feel – about themselves, about each other, about their community- so at a festival if you have art and music and performance that patrons are not just encouraged to be entertained by – but rather to co create, share, contribute to – I feel that has that a direct impact on people’s sense of connection – and people who live with a sense of connection are more likely to seek out supports, more likely to intervene when they see someone acting problematically in the group.
I have always said that one of the components of Bass Coast’s Harm Reduction is the art. The art grants allow people in the community to contribute to the experience of the weekend and it helps prevent sense of entitlement from becoming a norm. A dangerous norm at a mass gathering is the entitlement to be “ entertained” or to just be consuming the event passively.” – Stacey
“Also art and music and performance by diverse gender expressions, bodies, cultures helps prevent any one group from becoming a prop for the party, which is a great norm to have.
I think we are heading into a new time in society where we can really explore arts role as messenger and educator. Historically art is often positioned as a reaction to culture, but I am drawn art that sits at the nexus of aesthetically pleasing and informative. Think of how HEINOUS literally all public health information is – drug and alcohol or safer sex pamphlets – like is there not a way to deliver this information that is also nice to look at? That is one aspect of Bass Coast’s harm reduction program that I enjoy – it doesn’t have to be cheesy. We have made it our own.
Last April I collected messages of support for sexual assault survivors from the public and projected them down town on buildings, kind of Jenny Holzer inspired – I think that reflects my interest in where those things can intersect.” – Stacey
Why do you feel it is important more festivals get involved in these types of projects?
“All mass gatherings need harm reduction in some capacity. There are many different ways to approach it, all of which can be worked into the “brand” of the event. To not put plans and interventions in place to mitigate the harms that come from a bunch of people 19+ creating a small village to party in ( which may involve the consumption of drugs and / or alcohol in) is VERY dangerous. If you are all about “community” it has to include offering supports for that community to access to help keep themselves safe.” – Stacey
You also run a very important mission, Good Night Out. What motivated you to start it up?
“I do Good Night out with an amazing woman Ashtyn Bevan. I was already doing a different project around street harassment and Ashtyn reached out wanting to do something to talk about harassment on nights out. It came from a place of experience of having (too often) had someone being creepy ruin what was an amazing night out, and wanting less bad nights out, more amazing ones.
And here we are, nearly 3 years later running a street team in one of the most MACHO club districts ever and partnering with the Junos. Its about wanting a shift in the nightlife economy to one where consent culture prevails, masculinity can deal with rejection, and where women / femmes / non-men are not just safe but fucking celebrated instead of made to feel objectified or unsafe.” – Stacey
If someone were to use Good Night out, what would that look like?
“We work with anyone who has connections to shows, raves, concerts festivals – so whether one is a promoter, venue owner or patron, we offer workshops for all sectors .It covers what is happening, why this stuff happens (spoiler alert: patriarchy, heteronormativity and racism),what risks exist at your event and practical ways to address them.
That whole package sounds super like buzzkilly, but I promise it is delivered in a way that also acknowledges all the fun reasons about why people go out. It’s a fun workshop. ” – Stacey
Where do you see your work going in the future?
I think that we are living in a watershed moment both in harm reduction (thanks to fentanyl) and sexual harassment / assault (thanks to #metoo). I think I have found a niche in making both of these topics “cool” and easy and waaaaay less daunting than they appear. So hopefully I get to ride this out a bit and have this conversation a lot more with people who want to implement change at their event or in their community.
How can people get involved with the Good Night Out?
“Like us on Facebook to see what we are all about – Good Night Out Vancouver. If we speak to you and you want to be connected to volunteer opportunities shoot us a message from there.” – Stacey
How can festivals get in contact if they are interested in working with you and knowing more about what you offer?
Going through Good Night Out is best for that too – just shoot an email:
Make sure you check out their guide to safer spaces and how touring artists can get involved HERE!
Final words or question you think I should asked?
“No – thank you for this!” – Stacey