Skip to content

Graduate wins award for online platform to improve disability access to music festivals

Recent University of Gloucestershire graduate Laura James has won a national music industry award, recognising her achievements in developing an online ticketing platform that improves access to major entertainment and leisure events for people with disabilities.

Laura, who graduated from the University last year with a BA degree in Music Business, has been named as runner-up at the 2023 UK Music Outstanding Music Academic Partnership Graduate Awards (OMG).

The awards celebrate students from Music Academic Partnership institutions who have excelled in areas related to the music industry, such as research, recording, performance, business success or community work.

Laura was recognised by UK Music in part for her work in developing an innovative ticketing platform that streamlines the booking process for people with disabilities by enabling them to make the venue aware of their access needs at the same time as they buy tickets.

An events freelancer with an accessibility specialism, Laura had a crowd management role during last weekend’s Coronation celebrations in London following previous involvement at other major events such as the London Marathon, and the Download Festival for Festival Republic ­– the largest festival company in the UK. 

Laura, recently appointed as Accessibility Manager for the ArcTanGent and 2000trees music festivals, said: “I am so pleased to have received the runner-up award at this year’s OMG Awards. The talent pool of nominees was incredible, with graduates making waves of change across all areas of the industry, so to be selected for an award feels amazing.

“As an event freelancer, I dedicate my work to shaping a more welcoming and inclusive industry for disabled and neurodivergent people – inclusive of artists, industry professionals, and audience members. 

“I am also keen to create innovation in the industry, so I’m working on developing an accessible ticketing platform, GigAble Tickets, to improve the process of buying accessible tickets to events.

“Currently reliant on email and busy phone lines, this often leaves the customer feeling frustrated, so GigAble aims to create a smoother and simpler process. The pilot site is already up and running, all thanks to The Music Works, so the next steps are test and improve.

“I owe a huge thanks to the many amazing lecturers at University of Gloucestershire whose continued support has encouraged me to think outside the box and persist in building a career in a niche sector of the industry. The fact I was nominated at all is a testament to them.

“Special thanks must go to Tom Soper (Academic Course Leader for Music Business) and Andrew Lansley (Senior Lecturer in Music Business) because it is through their help and vast array of connections that I have been able to work with some of the UK’s leading charities and organisations, as well as a whole host of local organisations in my time at the university.”

Eurovision winner and music legend Sandie Shaw attended the awards ceremony, run in partnership with Sound City, the independent festival for new music, and held at Phase One in Liverpool.

Tom Soper, Academic Course Leader for Music Business within the University’s School of Creative Industries, said: “It is wonderful to see Laura’s work celebrated at a national level, especially as she was determined to focus on accessibility from her second year onwards, transitioning straight into freelance employment on graduation.”

Two previous graduates from the University – Rebecca Rees and Kane Peters – were winner and runner-up respectively at the 2021 UK Music Outstanding Music Academic Partnership Graduate Awards.

Earlier this year, Andrew Lansley paved the way to make live events more accessible and environmentally friendly after playing a central role in the production of a sophisticated but easy-to-use industry-leading toolkit.

He designed the Donut Assessment Tool for Events (DATE) after collaborating with a range of partners, including Cheltenham Borough Council and leading arts charity Cheltenham Festivals.