The Art of Mass Gatherings Podcast

The Art of Mass Gatherings Podcast explores the intersection of festivals and community resilience, focusing on the powerful role that arts and events can play in climate and disaster preparedness. Since 2017, we’ve turned festivals across the country into classrooms for sharing practical knowledge across diverse fields such as arts, city and disaster planning, culture, and food. The podcast features dialogues with event producers and emergency experts, emphasizing the four pillars of resilient gatherings: safety, sustainability, accessibility, and community engagement. It delves into the role of cultural traditions and festivals as platforms for social change.

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Ep. 1 Emma Stuart on Crowds, Civil Disruptions & Climate Change

Released: 10 April 2024

Join hosts Matthew Kowal and Tom Clareson, with special guest Emma Stuart, an event and crowd safety expert, for an insightful look into festivals as a force for good in our rapidly changing world.

Ep. 2 The Walk & Talk

Released: 10 April 2024

Majestic Collaborations colleagues Bert and Matt explore how art and empathy become the tools for mutual aid and social change, and why preserving cultural events is essential for a city’s soul and preparedness.

Ep. 3 Festival Safety from Santa Barbara’s Emergency Manager & Route 91 Festival Survivor

Released: 24 April 2024

In this episode, emergency management expert Kelly Hubbard shares wisdom about how communities can both prepare and recover from disasters, using her very personal experience of the mass shooting at the Route 91 music festival as a key case study. Kelly emphasizes the crucial role of clear communication, shares examples of how to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, and suggets savvy ways emergency responders and the arts community can collaborate, including when it comes to the particular challenges and opportunities of pop-up events. Discover how art therapy can aid in community recovery and how lessons learned from this tragedy can inform future preparedness strategies.

Ep. 4 What Festivals Can Teach Us About Accessibility During Disaster

Released: 13 May 2024

Learn more with us about the need for creative and practical solutions for people with disabilities, such as alternative methods of accessing elevated areas and adapting mobility equipment for different terrains. Featuring insights from Heather Lafferty, Burning Man’s Rat Lady, and Irene Navis in conversation with Jessica Wallach during a panel at the Nevada Preparedness Summit hosted by Majestic Collaborations.

Artist Credits

The artwork used in the podcast thumbnail was created for us by illustrator, graphic novelist & concept artist Dion Harris. It represents the intersectional roles that professionals trained in the Art of Mass Gatherings might play in their communities: from performers to event producers to teachers to emergency response professionals.

The intro & outro music is written & performed by podcast host Matthew Kowal with his band The Reals. Listen to the original song, "Fairly Natural."