M&T Bank Exchange is already hosting events with a ribbon cutting ceremony to be held next month
USA - M&T Bank Exchange in Baltimore has opened as the city’s newest live event venue with an Elation Professional lighting package that can cater to any occasion from concert to reception and everything in between. The new 14,193 sq.ft performance space has been created within the shell of an historic 19th century bank building and represents the long-awaited final phase of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Centre.
When the refurbished Hippodrome Theatre opened in 2004 as the centrepiece of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Centre, original plans called for a smaller performance space to open next to it. The Hippodrome Foundation had preserved the historic Eutaw Savings Bank as part of the larger arts complex, with the thought that it could become a flexible venue for shows and events that didn’t need the Hippodrome’s 2,300-person seating capacity. Now, nearly two decades after the Hippodrome reopened, that second performance space is finally complete.
As part of the renovation of the historic bank building, the foundation and its designers sought to ensure state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. Jeff Kenney, head of HTG Events LLC, one of Orlando's premier event production groups, was involved from the early stages. “Following conceptual discussions about how the room might be used, we looked at some of the other live entertainment rooms in the area,” he said. “The decision was made to enter the premium live event area but with a versatile space that had the capability to handle a variety of events.”
HTG Events has produced EDM events in the Orlando area for over 25 years, including some of the most technologically sophisticated tours and festivals. HTG collaborated with architectural firm OTJ Architects on the technology design and specification at M&T Bank Exchange, and ultimately provided the lighting, sound and video for the room.
HTG, located in Orlando, maintains a strong relationship with Freed Sales, Elation's Florida-based manufacturers rep firm. According to Kenney, Freed Sales plays a significant role by offering crucial technical assistance whenever needed. He describes them as their dependable support system, and they frequently visit Freed Sales' facility with clients to evaluate fixtures together.
The M&T Bank Exchange space was designed with a lighting infrastructure that can accommodate a wide range of events and includes two above stage electrics, an FOH electric, and three specials out in the room. The entire rig is hung on hoists which can lower or be pre-programmed for different show heights.
Kenney handled all lighting placement in the room and leaned heavily on Elation’s high performance Fuze line to provide clients with a versatile system that offers a number of options. “It gives them the ability to frame from anywhere in the room so clients can come in and use the system any way they want,” he said. “The system was meant to be flexible, to handle everything from a concert to a wedding without reconfiguring.”
Fuze Profile moving heads with RGBMA colour mixing and dual gobo wheels populate balcony battens and give the LD an option to frame from 20 positions as a primary lighting source. Additional Fuze Profiles provide framing capability above the stage on the upstage and downstage positions.
Fuze Wash 500 moving heads hot off the Elation production line, also with RGBMA LED engines, give Fresnel zoom capability above stage, at FOH, and for house lighting, while Fuze Spot moving heads with RGBMA colour mixing and two gobo wheels provide dynamic FX and specials.
The lighting FX package also includes Colour Chorus battens, Paladin hybrid wash/blinder/strobe lights, Cuepix Blinders, and a room full of controlled architectural lighting. Every light in the room is LED including a 24ft, hi-definition video screen that provides a dynamic graphics backdrop. A megabatten encircles the space for multiple lighting points each with a Netron EP2 node for signal distribution with headroom enough to add more gear when needed.
The lighting console has full control of the room with the capability to handle floor packages as they come in. The room can be configured three different ways and can support crowds up to 1,351. Kenney emphasises that the lighting design was rendered using Capture visualisation software, including a 'sizzle reel' that plays a crucial role in impressing potential clients. He also commends Capture for its valuable and supportive network.

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