Chaos at Macheso show: Why musicians need Public Liability Insurance

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Police officers intervene to stop violence

BY Tafadzwa Chidoori

There was pandemonium at Alick Macheso’s Glenora show at Wedza Spacemen Pamakani bar in Harare last Saturday. Several people were injured and cars were damaged after people without admission fees started throwing stones at the venue; prompting Macheso to cut short the show at around 02:30am. This is not the first time that such incidences have occurred at arts events in the country.

In April this year Utakataka express security boys were reported to have been severely beaten by revellers in Guruve at Chivavaya night club after their boss Peter Moyo delayed to start a live perfomance.

In April 2016 the lighting on the stage and electronic screens at Old Hararians Sports Club were damaged when the crowd ran riot after Wizkid had failed to perform.

In May 2015 at a ZITF shutdown gig, artists scurried for cover after revellers threw cans and bottles on the stage after the venue was plunged into darkness due to a power failure.

In December 2014 chaos rocked the much-hyped Harare Lockdown concert at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) after thousands of fans were denied entry. The incensed ticket holding fans who were denied entry, forced their way into the auditorium breaking glasses. Outside the venue riot police unleashed dogs on the irate crowd leading to a stampede that resulted in a number of people sustaining injuries.

In November 2014 scores of fans were injured at the City Sports Centre in Harare during the “Sting” Dancehall show after artists Seh Calaz and Soul Jah Love allegedly physically fought on stage and instigated violence within the crowd. Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd however this led to a stampede and scores of people were injured. Several show goers sustained bruises while others dislocated their hips and ankles. Windows were shattered as people tried to get out of the venue and some unscrupulous show goers hit the cash register and made off with some beverages. The Award-winning Zimdancehall sensation Soul Jah Love later on apologised to fans for his alleged instigation of violence.

“I would like to apologise for what happened at the Sting 2014 cup clash and I hope all those who were injured get well soon. I pray such incidents won’t happen again,” he said then.

Police officers intervene to stop violence

It is very fortunate that Soul Jah Love got away with an apology and that none of the artists and or promoters involved in incidences where fans have been injured or property damaged have so far been sued by people injured at these events.  And it’s just a matter of time before an artist or a promoter is faced with a bankrupting lawsuit and live to regret failing to insure properly.

Insurance products like Public Liability insurance help artist and promoters avert such risks and protect a musician from legal claims if somebody is hurt as a result of their artistic activities.

What is Public Liability Insurance?

This covers you for your legal liabilities if you cause any injury to people (including death) and/or damage to the property of third parties. The reason is because if you are a musician and you are running a commercial activity involving the public you owe the public a duty of care as a third party. In other words if somebody has an accident or does something really stupid at a live show or in a venue and gets injured or dies.  The person they are going to sue for damages – under public liability – is the musician.

To be able to work or hold any activities in any public space – or a space which members of the public can access you must have public liability cover.

Liabilities usually arise when people are present in a property where you have a legal duty of care to provide a safe and healthy environment.

The variety of activities currently undertaken by musicians in public spaces is vast it includes live art and physical performances. And may also include making, teaching, installation, exhibition and public display of interactive arts. Some artist

All of these areas are covered by Public Liability Insurance.

Does a Musician need Public liability insurance?

Yes, a musician’s artistic work involves public performances. If someone were to be injured during one of these public events, as has happened a number of times in the musical scene in Zimbabwe. A musician will be held liable. Public Liability Insurance will thus give the musician a peace of mind whenever they hold live shows. Since Public liability insurance will protect musicians against damage or injury to revellers, stages, lighting during a live show.

While there have not been reported major claims in Zimbabwe, Public Liability Insurance benefits really come to the fore when a more substantial incident occurs.

In 2011 the producers of hit Broadway musical Billy Elliot, reportedly faced a public liability lawsuit of a reported £2.67 million, after two members of the audience were hit by a stage prop and injured. The lawsuit accused the producers of: “general negligence (for) arranging a hazardous and dangerous choreography”

In the United Kingdom (UK) one such claim involved payment of £60,000 for accidental injury to a member of the public who was visiting an artist-run community project.

Imagine if Macheso had been faced with such a lawsuit and was not properly covered he would have found the situation extremely stressful, and would have been probably forced to sale his house, studio and other assets to cover a lawsuit. His life savings will be lost in a flash.

Bev performing one of her choreography acts with a reveler. In 2011 the producers of hit Broadway musical Billy Elliot, were faced with a public liability lawsuit of a reported £2.67 million for arranging a hazardous and dangerous choreography,

Musicians such as Beverly and Most Dance groups are popular for performances that often require participation of revellers such artistic work can also cause injury or death of participants or damage to property; public liability insurance also covers this.

Most artists perform at rented venues, however, most public venues do not ask artists to provide adequate cover leaving artists, promoters and owners of the venues vulnerable to lawsuits. If you own a venue like Wedza Spacemen Pamakani Bar where fans were injured and cars destroyed, and you are not covered you can risk being sued for injury or death or damage if anything unfortunate were to happen.

Public Liability Insurance cover often runs to millions of dollars, so artists should never be caught unawares and should always prepare for any eventualities.

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