When running an event, you need to consider risk in relation to different aspects, such as health & safety, financial, logistical, and natural.

The event manager today is exposed to legal redress if there is injury or accident as a result of the event activities. In any investigation, authorities will be looking for the safety process that the event manager went through to ensure everyone’s safety. Putting procedures in place to cover all risks mitigates the damage.

Ask yourself these questions to help you take the appropriate actions to minimize all risk:

  1. What can go wrong?
  2. What are the consequences? (insignificant or catastrophic)
  3. How can I reduce the risk?
  4. What if we don’t sell our budgeted tickets?
  5. What if our guest artist doesn’t arrive?
  6. What if it rains? – make sure you have a contingency plan for unexpected weather.

Risk assessment and risk management plans

Developing a risk assessment and an effective risk management plan, that include hazard identification and evacuation procedures, is essential. This assessment and plan should be provided to all those working on the event, the police and other emergency personnel. In case of an emergency the roles of the police and emergency personnel need to be clearly defined prior to the event. Some platforms and people that will help you undertake your assessments and create your plans:

First aid

Provision of first aid/emergency medical services is crucial at any event where there is potential risk to participants, officials or the public. First aid services should be in a visible, sign-posted location and workers should wear obvious uniforms. St John is highly skilled at providing medical care at events. They can recommend the kind of coverage you will need. Payment is arranged in advance and depends on the service provided. They will expect to discuss this with you. This is a voluntary organisation and therefore cannot always guarantee their assistance. It is very important that you contact them as early as possible in your planning; St John Event Coverage contact number is 03 218 3099.


Most event organisers are operating at a financial loss until the event goes ahead and income is generated. What would happen if your event is cancelled or there is an increased cost of running? You may be left out of pocket for all the money they have invested.

You also may be held liable and in some cases festival organisers may be personally liable if someone is injured, for any financial losses or any damages that flow from the event. It is important to ask the following questions:

  1. What will happen if the event makes a loss?
  2. What will happen if someone is injured or property is damaged?
  3. Who will be responsible?
  4. What will happen if the event is cancelled?
  5. What will happen if property is stolen?

There are some ways you can protect yourself against liability and loss. Here are a few options to consider:

Event insurance

Event Insurance covers the financial loss as a result of cancellation, abandonment, postponement, interruption or relocation of an event due to unforeseen circumstances. Some situations or events that the insurance will cover are:

  • Inclement weather
  • Natural catastrophe
  • Extra, unexpected expenses to keep the event running
  • Power failure
  • Public transport failure or denial of access
  • Failure to vacate the event venue
  • Strikes
  • Terrorism or threat of terrorism
  • The inability of any person(s) to appear at your event e.g. speakers or performers
  • TV transmission failure

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance is an important consideration for your event because it will no doubt involve interacting with members of the public. If your event is ordered to pay damages for causing injury or property damage, public liability insurance will cover these costs as well as any associated legal or hospital fees. For further information contact your local insurance broker, lawyer, or your bank.

Guarantees Against Loss (GALS) Fund

Community Trust of Southland (CTOS) provide a Guarantees Against Loss (GALS) Fund in support of events to provide security for organisers against not meeting budgeted ticket sales and our GALs are aimed at assisting with the initial establishment of events but are not intended to be a form of long term and/or ongoing funding.

Applications for the GALS Fund should be for events that:

  • Demonstrate broad community benefit
  • Have a realistic expectation of ticket sales and a realistic overall budget
  • Are not competing to the detriment of other events in the CTOS area
  • Contribute, in aggregate with other events, to provide a range of experiences for the community

Event Planning Toolbox

Step 1: Define the event goals

Step 2: Prepare your event plan

Step 3: Build your event budget

Step 4: Organise your event

Step 5: Promote your event

Step 6: Risk & safety at your event

Step 7: Evalute your event