Students at the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas prepare for a lighting showcase with ETC's Ti console
USA - Known by many as the best kept secret in the entertainment world, the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas provides professional level training by some of the most well-respected minds in the industry, on the most powerful equipment, such as ETC lighting desks. "The Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas is a total immersion experience," explains faculty member and lighting designer Brian Gale. "It's where you get the muscle memory that is required to work efficiently in stagecraft disciplines."

The non-profit Stagecraft Institute began in 2006 and provides an immersive education to around 70 people each summer, 90 per cent of whom receive either a full or partial scholarship. All of the topics of study revolve around disciplines within the world of stagecraft and live entertainment, including lighting design and programming, media programming, sound, costumes, AutoCAD, Vectorworks, ESP Vision, rigging and special effects.

The intensive summer programme lasts eight consecutive weeks, during which students study one topic per week. The curriculum changes yearly based on the students' interests, industry trends and who is part of the faculty. "We take the role of mentor very seriously," says Stagecraft faculty and board member - and ETC Eos family product manager - Anne Valentino. "There is no other education programme that I'm aware of where students have direct programming experience with leading professional programmers and designers who have a keen interest in giving back."

Don Childs - a lighting designer and well-known force in higher learning, who passed away in 2011 - and his partner and wife, Jane Childs, created the organisation. "He really loved what he did and was driven to share it with others," explains Jane Childs, who currently serves as the managing director of the Stagecraft Institute.

The organisation's philosophy revolves around Don's closely held belief that the best way to learn anything was by getting hands-on experience. "Donald never took a lighting class in his life," Childs elaborates. "He was determined to find a better way to teach theatre to others. He firmly believed we are all simply conduits of knowledge and it is our obligation to share what we know."

Two of the total eight weeks focus on programming and designing with digital media and moving lights. "The students do everything, and I mean everything," explains Gale. Students begin the two weeks with a bare stage and then load in, plug in, patch and set up all lights and consoles. "They do get verbal instruction from the faculty, but mostly we are completely hands off," elaborates Gale. Once the students install all 120 moving lights, the rig is then divided into three nearly identical sections, each controlled by one of three different brands of industry leading consoles, including ETC's Ti desks. "Most of these kids worked on an Eos console when they were in high school, so are already familiar with it coming in, and most will go out into the professional world and encounter one."

Towards the end of the lighting session, students show off their new skills in a final lighting showcase, a final exam and a two day busking exercise when their programming skills are really put to the test. They must design a mini show on the fly, set to music. "Our goal is to give these individuals marketable skills. Many small venues design their shows on the fly - clubs, small concert halls, hotel ballrooms and whatnot. It's a very important skill to possess as a lighting designer," says Gale, "and anyone who is a professional lighting designer will need to know how to use an ETC console."

With over $12m (£7.4m) of the most innovative equipment available in the entertainment technology market, Stagecraft is undoubtedly leading the way in practical theatrical education. "Students are truly working with some of the most state of the art equipment on the market today. Most colleges and universities aren't able to afford that k

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