The Sidney Stringer Academy's (SSA) new theatre in Coventry
UK - A.C. Special Projects (ACSP) has designed, supplied and installed complete technical facilities for the Sidney Stringer Academy's (SSA) new theatre in Coventry.

The SSA has gained a reputation as an innovator that encourages experimental teaching practices, and offers a range of BTEC vocational courses including Performing Arts and Music, for students aged 11-19.

The new multi-purpose theatre stages full productions by SSA and can be hired by local community groups and organisations.

The project was led for ACSP by Dave Cowan, who worked closely with SSA's head of drama, Michael Collins. ACSP were chosen for their extensive experience providing industry-standard technical facilities to the educational and performance markets.

It follows a very successful prior installation by ACSP in a temporary space to facilitate SSA students during the new theatre's construction - replacing the previous building that was destroyed by fire.

The scope of ACSP's work includes the specification of leading lighting, audio and video technologies, and installation of a comprehensive Cat 5 data network. In addition to all the new elements, SSA's existing kit was also integrated into the theatre.

The equipment supplied was based on the practical needs of the students and ensuring that they have the best technology available to develop their skills and aid potential future careers in the professional entertainment industry.

A new series of IWBs with hot power and dimmed socket outlets were supplied, plus custom facilities panels with fully patchable dimmer, Socapex, VGA, DMX, audio and Ethernet outlets.

Ceiling facilities panels were provided for two Robe DigitalSpot 7000DT moving projectors, chosen so video sources can be quickly and easily projected into different areas around the space.

These and other lighting - including Chroma-Q LED fixtures, ETC profiles and Robe moving lights - are controlled via an existing Jands Vista T2 console. Selected for its power and simplicity, the T2 has been upgraded with the latest Vista v2 software and ACSP arranged re-training for staff and students, so they can take full advantage Vista v2's many new and enhanced features.

A new data patch rack in the control room enables distributed audio and data signals to be sent to and from the IWBs and facilities panels.

New black ladder trussing forms a support structure for the various lighting bars, and two new 24-channel Strand wall-mounting dimmers have been added.

ACSP specified a new Mitsubishi XD8100U HD projector and mounting cradle - separate from the DigiSpots - so the space can be utilised for cinema screenings, lectures and AV presentations.

The existing KV2 audio system is now rigged in the theatre and has been boosted with additional KV2 EX12 full range speakers. This is mixed with a Yamaha LS9 digital console also sourced from ACSP.

The School now has one of the most technically equipped theatre facilities in the country. It is being used for assemblies, lessons and performance work for its Drama & Theatre Arts and Music courses to audiences ranging from 60 to 150 people. Also, other community groups are benefitting by using the facilities for educational, recreational, social and cultural purposes after School hours.

Michael Collins comments, "It was reassuring to know that we could rely on all aspects and changing developments of the installation being handled smoothly and professionally...Our students' excellent exam results and improved performance can be directly attributed to the benefits of having the use of an expertly designed and installed system."

(Jim Evans)

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