The fellowship was awarded at the 2023 ALT Graduation Ceremony
UK - The Academy of Live Technology confers Honorary Fellowships upon individuals in recognition of their significant commitment and contribution to the live entertainment and creative industries. The 2023 Graduation Ceremony, hosted on Saturday 2 December in Production Park’s Studio 005, saw the Honorary Fellowship awarded to Sarah Rushton-Read.
Her career spans over 30 years. Having initially stepped into the creative industries as an actress, she moved into stage management in 1985 and then successfully into lighting design and management for theatre, opera and ballet, working at leading venues including The Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne Opera.
After a brief stint as a production manager at PRG, Sarah swerved into garden and architectural lighting design, whilst also co-running an events lighting company.
In 2002, Sarah became assistant editor at LSi and spent two years developing a deep understanding of the entertainment industry ecosystem, beyond just backstage.
As a result, she saw the need for an innovative communications agency and The Fifth Estate was born. Today, The Fifth Estate is staffed by a team of full-time specialists and supported by a host of talented associates and freelancers. Its global clients include equipment manufacturers, service providers, creative designers and marketing agencies. For the last ten years, The Fifth Estate has developed, produced and managed The Knight Of Illumination Awards in the UK (and more recently in the USA) and has sought to celebrate creativity across the sectors of theatre, concert touring, events and television.
In 2004 Sarah embarked on a master's in Energy and Environment and founded Eco-Theatre, which had a mission to help theatre buildings and practitioners to operate more sustainably.
In 2005 she joined forces with lighting designer Paule Constable and formed a group called Women in Stage Entertainment (WiSE). The aim was to promote gender equality in the entertainment business and open up broader opportunities for women to network, train and share their experiences. The organisation created a global support network for women working in the backstage tech disciplines and at its peak, had over 800 members worldwide.
Through her career, she has realised that she is passionate about working with and supporting people, and she is currently using this passion to support new initiatives and social change charities. In describing, herself she cites Albert Einstein - “I have no special talent, I am just passionately curious.”

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