Professional Voices: Luke Barbanneau

Originally published: November 2020

First of all, please explain your role and what you do (or at least what you were doing outside of the current shutdown!)

I am the Accessibility Manager for Green Man festival, and I am responsible for coordinating the festival’s provision for disabled customers, artists and crew. This includes handling the application process for accessible tickets and passes; ensuring the provision of viewing platforms, accessible toilets, showers, parking, and other facilities is adequate and appropriate; overseeing the accessible campsite, car park and facilities during the festival; managing the team of stewards who work in these locations; and communicating directly with customers to ensure their needs are met as best as possible.

How did you start working in the music industry?

I started volunteering at festivals as a steward aged 18, which provided me with experience and useful contacts. After volunteering at Green Man twice, I approached them directly with a feasible plan of action for improving access at their festival.

Do you think there are ways in which having lived experience of an impairment or health condition helps you in your role?

Absolutely! Having lived experience of being disabled gives me a deeper understanding of the challenges that disabled people face when attending and working at festivals, and I think that makes me well suited to work towards minimising those challenges. I directly benefit from the accessibility arrangements that the festival puts in place, so that makes it easier for me to give feedback, and have a good idea of what will and will not work during planning phases.

That said, I recognise that different disabled people have very different experiences, so I try and make sure I am educated about as many impairments and conditions as possible, and I make sure to listen to feedback from our disabled customers.

What do you think the music industry could do to be more accessible to Deaf and disabled people who want to work in music?

From the perspective of the festival industry, I think festivals should do more to make it clear that they are able to provide support for disabled people who want to volunteer or work for them. Festival websites should include a link to policy documents about how the festival supports disabled crew and volunteers. Going to work on a festival site can be daunting or seem unmanageable for disabled people, so it would be good if festivals could be proactive in showing that they have thought about it and have systems in place.

In general I think the music industry should be proactively recruiting disabled people into their training schemes and internships.

What advice would you give to other people with impairments or health conditions who want to get into the music industry?

Know what support you need from your employer, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. If you want to work in the festival industry but need a PA and a golf-buggy to be able to work on site, that’s ok! 

If you want to work at festivals and don’t know how to break into it, sign up as a volunteer and start networking.

A white man with a beard sitting on a scooter in a field smiling.