INTERVIEW: Luke Barbanneau, Accessibility Manager at Green Man Festival
Posted on 11.07.2018
In light of the award, we’re giving a behind the scenes look at festival accessibility with Luke, Green Man’s Accessibility Manager, who tells us how he got into the job, the day in the life of an access manager, and why Green Man’s crew catering is the top perk of the job.
First of all, please could you introduce yourself and explain your role at Green Man?
My name is Luke Barbanneau and I’m the Accessibility Manager at Green Man festival. My job is to ensure that the festival is as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
It’s a varied job that involves working with people from different departments – from ticketing and access logistics to stewarding and customer service.
How did you start working at the festival?
I’ve began stewarding UK festivals in 2008, and first came Green Man as a steward in 2013.
After stewarding two years in a row, I realised that whilst they were trying hard to make the festival accessible, there were changes they could make that would make a huge difference.
I emailed them outlining how they could improve access and how I could help, based on my experience as a steward. The management team met with me, and subsequently offered me a job for Green Man 2015.
What does an average day at the festival look like for you?
I aim to get to crew catering by 9 AM – a highlight of working at Green Man! Then I turn my radio on and pick up equipment to give out to the access stewards. By 10 AM I need to be at the accessible campsite to open the info tent.
Before the access stewarding team start, I do a full site walk to check the state and safety of viewing platforms, toilets and showers, and report any problems to the logistics team. Often I have to hunt for chairs that have migrated off the viewing platforms overnight!
I brief the first stewarding shift at the viewing platform before the music starts. The rest of the day is a blur of shift changes, dead radio batteries and answering unusual queries. I’m on a mobility scooter so I can often get to an incident before anyone else!
I try to clock off at 9 PM and leave the night shift in the capable hands of my deputy, but sometimes stick around if a band will be busy so I can help customers on the platform. I usually have a drink and see some bands before going to bed around 1 AM so I can repeat it the next day!
Disabled customers really appreciate seeing a disabled person in charge of access.
How does your experience help you to support customers at the festival?
I’ve experienced the challenge of walking across huge muddy sites, endless queuing, and the quest for a seat with a good view. Festivals have been a huge part of my life for over ten years, so I understand how important they are.
It is my goal to help people get the most out of their festival experience, so I always do my best to make that happen.
What are the biggest changes you have seen to the access at the festival?
Having a dedicated accessibility manager has made everything more seamless. The festival director, Fiona, and the crew have always been dedicated to accessibility, and it's been fantastic to be involved in making it happen. There have also been practical changes including more trackway and accessible toilets, better viewing platforms, and better trained stewards, to name a few.
Moving forwards, we are looking into how we can better support customers on the autistic spectrum. Every customer has a unique set of access needs, so when they contact us we find ways we can adapt to meet them.
What advice would you give to other disabled people who want to work at festivals?
Just jump in and do it! Applying to be an Oxfam steward at Latitude was one of the best decisions I've made.
Work out what support you need to do the job, and let the team know. At Green Man, I have a PA and mobility scooter for the duration of the festival, which enables me to do the job well. Part of my job is to ensure the access needs of crew and performers are met, so if you apply for a job or volunteer role with us, I can help make sure you are adequately supported.
I have found disabled customers really appreciate seeing a disabled person in charge of access. It would be great to see more people following in my footsteps!