Risk Assessment in your creative activity planning
Abi McQuater
Musicians' Development Officer, Help Musicians
27th August 2020
Risk Assessment in your creative activity planning

Applying for support for live and touring activity requires adaptability, creativity and contingency planning.

Risk assessment and mitigation planning is vital at the best of times when planning a tour or, live project - let alone, in the current climate. Whilst we adjust to the live touring scene post-Brexit and keep tabs on Covid 19 restrictions across the world, the very nature of what it means to ‘get on the road’ and the means through which we can do this requires adapting. But how can you plan for this?

What does contingency mean?

Contingency is essentially having a back- up plan or a buffer to a fall back on just in case anything unexpected occurs. By this we mean planning some extra time just in case your activity takes longer than anticipated, or having some extra money put aside in your budget for any unexpected costs.

What do you mean by mitigation?

Mitigation means what steps will you put in place to ensure any risks are minimised. How might you resolve a situation should any of the risks you have identified arise.

Your Risk Assessment

Help Musicians want to support you in your project planning to conduct safe and informed decision-making around the live performance and conditions of the industry.

When applying for support towards touring and live activity, you will be asked to fill out a risk assessment template. This will ask you to consider the potential risks, impact, likelihood and consider how you might resolve or minimise these risks.

The basics when filling out your risk assessment as part of Help Musicians funding applications….

DID risk assessment


1.The Risks: 

Firstly, consider the types of risk. Please consider any events or external factors that may impact the delivery of your project.

Questions to consider

  • How could health and safety measurements due to COVID-19 cause risk to my project?

  • Does my budget factor in contingency costs? We recommend setting aside 5-10% of your budget for unexpected costs.

  • Have I researched the appropriate VISAs I will need when touring?

  • Is this feasible within the 12-month timeline?

Remember to be realistic but not overly cautious. When filling out this form, there’s no need to list off every single potential risk (for example, a traffic jam causing you to be late for a show), rather it is a chance for you to assess your project and determine the controls you need to put in place to ensure your success. It is also helpful for us to see that you have put a plan in place should any of these risks arise.

2. Impact level:

To what degree do the risks impact your ability to fulfil this project within the 12-month funding period? How detrimental would this risk be to your project? Use the scale of 3 (high impact), 2 (medium impact) and, 1 (low impact) to assess.

3: A detrimental risk that needs addressing in the short term and closely managed

2: A medium risk that may need addressing in the mid-term and managed appropriately

1: The impact of this risk is low and easily mitigated

3. Likelihood level:

How likely are these risks? In 2019, we may have calculated the risk of a global pandemic as relatively low. This illustrates the difficulty many musicians find when asked to calculate the probability of the risk itself. When calculating this, we recommend talking to your network, the chances are that other people have been considering similar risks and you might be able to help each other by sharing your experiences.

Use the scale 3 (high likelihood), 2 (medium likelihood) and 1 (low likelihood) to assess:

3: High

2: Medium

1: Low

4. Mitigation:

What plans will you put in place to either avoid these risks or ensure they don’t stop your project going ahead? In this section, describe in detail, the mitigating actions you would put in place to avoid these risks impacting your project.

Examples include:

COVID-19 – Following social distancing measures at shows and planning a life-streamed performance as a back-up plan if the show is cancelled

Equipment lost or, stuck at a border control –Insure all equipment and build 10% contingency plan in the budget to cover this.

Change in VISA requirements post-Brexit - Research and take advice on all VISA requirements before setting off on your tour

Burnout on the road or, performance anxiety – Realistic scheduling and wellbeing plan integrated in timeline.

This template should be considered a working document and we would expect to see this develop as your activity progresses.

General Hints & Tips…

Adaptability: With some fans hesitant to return to live music environments, consider hybrid means of connecting with your fanbase and new audiences, for example, via a live performance and, monetised live streaming concert series.

Plan: Designing a bullet proof mitigation strategy prepares you for the inevitable obstacles of someone getting sick on the road, equipment issues or the Wi-Fi dropping during a livestream.

Evaluate as you go: The risks will evolve as your project does, remind yourself to keep evaluating and assessing throughout your project timeline. For further advice from the Musician’s Union click here.

For advice directly related to musicians during Covid-19 please visit the website set-up by Help Musicians and our industry partners, Corona Musicians.

For advice around Visas and entrance requirements, sign up for 30 minutes free advice through Viva La Visa here.