General News

Effective Productions In Liquidation
Monday, 9 April 2001

Effective Productions, the company owned by entertainer Jim Davidson, has gone into liquidation owing £640,000, according to a report in The Stage newspaper. The company’s problems have been largely blamed on last year’s £4million Dick Whittington pantomime at London's Hammersmith Apollo, which failed to attract the expected audience. The planned production of Peter Pan starring Brian Blessed at the Hammersmith Apollo this Christmas is now expected not to take place.

The BRIT Awards, 2001
Sunday, 8 April 2001

The UK’s annual pop music back-slapping gala event, The Brits, was recorded live, in spectacular style, on February 26th at Earls Court 2, London. The live production was managed by Brit regular MJK Productions.

Another regular, Vari-Lite Europe provided the complete lighting system - featuring more than 500 luminaires - as well as providing the rig for the After Show Party. Lighting designer for the event was Al Gurdon. With the ceremony designed to look spectacular both for the live audience and a massive worldwide broadcast audience, the lighting design encompassed the entire space within Earl’s Court 2, both on and around the huge stage and the specially-constructed auditorium.

The large-scale lighting rig included 40 VL2416s, 54 VL5 Arcs, 81 VL5Bs, 76 VL5s, 24 VL6 wash luminaires, 38 VL6Cs, six VL7s and 130 VL2C spot luminaires, with control from two Virtuoso consoles. VL also supplied a substantial conventional rig, with 16 4k Xenon Sky Art Searchlights, two 70k Lightning Strikes, four 40k Lightning Strikes, 160 Par 36s, 400 Par 64s and 44 Diversitronics Strobes. The rig also included 420 metres of truss, two 12 metre-diameter semi-circles of truss and 14 one-tonne hoist motors complete with cable, control and rigging accessories.

The After Show Party’s lighting was designed by Theo Cox who lit the four exclusive rooms - Air Lounge, Water Bar, Earth Garden and the Fire Club - using a rig that featured 56 VL5 wash luminaires, 16 VL6B spot luminaires, VL Moving Mirror Ball units and conventionals, all run from a pair of Wholehog 2s and an Avolit

By Degrees . . .
Saturday, 7 April 2001

We have heard much, over the last few years, of theatres being given large sums of lottery cash to undertake major improvements. But what of the poor souls left behind without major injections of cash?

The Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone is owned by Maidstone Borough Council and, like all other departments of the council, has to take its place in a long queue for what small amount of money is available. A general re-fit was accomplished 20 years ago, but since then there has been no major injection of cash available to it.

Theatre manager, Mandy Hare, took the reins just over three years ago and set about raising the profile of the venue, putting in more events, a wider artistic base, a thriving youth theatre, a regular programme of workshops and a selection of outside events. Production and operations manager, Eric Lund, joined the team just over two years ago and soon realised that the existing resources just didn’t shape up. "I realised that the technical resources available to the two theatres at the Hazlitt were simply not going to be able to cope. With a combined technical budget of just £5,000 to last a year, we were barely standing still. Not only that, all the new equipment which had been put in 20 years ago, needed either major servicing or replacing."

Hare and Lund devised a cunning plan. Knowing that a single major cash injection was not going to be possible, they decided to split their requirements into several separate projects, each requiring only a (relatively) small amount of funding. They took their plan to councillors who, impressed wi

Gearing Up for PLASA 2001Gearing Up for PLASA 2001
Friday, 6 April 2001

The countdown to the PLASA Show 2001 has begun! The entertainment technology industry’s leading event will run from 9 - 12 September at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London. With over 89% of the available stand space already sold and all the leading manufacturers booked into the show, PLASA 2001 promises to live up to its reputation as the showcase event that launches the entertainment technology year. Venue improvements have continued, with over £500,000 invested in the last 12 months to improve comfort cooling at the Show. Furthermore, an overall investment of £6million will ensure that Earls Court is a fully air-conditioned exhibition centre by 2002. Over 400 exhibitors and 14,000 UK and international visitors are expected to attend and experience the sound and lighting extravaganza that has become synonymous with PLASA. Manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of professional lighting, sound and AV equipment will descend upon Earls Court to unveil their latest products and technical developments for the vibrant and hugely diverse entertainment and leisure industry.

Almost 13,000 visitors, including a record 25% from overseas, attended the PLASA Show last year. Specifiers, consultants, attraction managers, recording technicians, disc and light jockeys, corporate presentation planners, technicians, architects, installers and other professionals from the world of entertainment technology traveled from all corners of the globe to see the very latest products, innovations and designs showcased.

The PLASA Show 2001 will feature many of the attractions that cont

US Court Rules in Favour of Switchcraft
Wednesday, 4 April 2001

In a ruling handed down by the US District Court, Southern District of New York, Switchcraft, a leading manufacturer of audio connectors, was granted summary judgment in the patent lawsuit filed by Neutrik Inc, in regards to Switchcraft’s HPC connector series. The Courts ruled that Switchcraft Inc has not violated Neutrik’s US Patent No. 5205749 on the Speakon connector. The Court also ruled that Switchcraft is not in violation of trade dress infringement, unfair competition, or unlawful use of a trademark, the other aspects of the lawsuit filed by Neutrik Inc. Keith Bandolik, president of Switchcraft Inc said: "We obviously are very happy with the court’s ruling, and look forward to continued success with the HPC Series." A complete copy of the summary judgment can be reviewed at The HPC Series, a complete line of panel mount and cord plug connectors, was developed and is manufactured by Switchcraft Inc. to be compatible with the Neutrik Speakon series.

MCL Opens for Business
Wednesday, 4 April 2001

Media Control (Europe) Ltd (MCL) is a new company set up by Avesco Group plc to provide full AV staging services to the UK and European corporate presentations market. The company officially began its operation on April 2. Based in Chessington, Surrey, MCL is headed by Mike Bell, who has worked for rental, conference production and support companies in the corporate presentations market for over 20 years. MCL will offer a wide range of services, from dry hire packages to complex presentation solutions. The company will also offer a ‘cloaked’ service to agencies and freelance producers: to protect agency brands, equipment can be provided in unmarked boxes.

MCL will offer a complete inventory of audio, lighting, staging and AV equipment. Mike Bell told us: "We are intent on changing current conceptions about AV staging - often referred to as ‘One Stop Shops’. Working as meticulously as the single-line hirers, MCL will maintain an overall project view, ensuring that all departments come together to fulfil our clients’ expectations."

MCL will enjoy the full backing of the Avesco Group, providers of specialist services to the corporate, presentation, entertainment and broadcast markets, with offices throughout Europe and the USA. Compnaies in the Group incldue Screenco, Creative Technology, Dimension Audio and JVR. Mike Bell is joined at MCL by operations manager Ed Marron, operations coordinator Ian Rawlinson and office manager Laura Cameron.

Jands and Stage Technologies Form Alliance
Tuesday, 3 April 2001

Stage Technologies in London has joined forces with Jands Electronics in Sydney to supply high tech stage machinery and equipment to the region’s staging industry.

The agreement allows Australian customers access to Stage Technologies’ products through Jands Electronics. "We will be pooling our expertise, experience and knowledge," said Jands’ managing director Paul Mulholland. "Stage Technologies has excellent credentials and is a worldwide leader in stage control systems. Coupled with our mechanical expertise and ability to source local materials, this will prove to be a very strong alliance." Stage Technologies’ marketing director John Hastie added: "Together with Jands, the complete range of Stage Technologies equipment and solutions will be supplied and well supported in Australia."

Association News - Gearing Up for PLASA 2001
Sunday, 1 April 2001

The countdown to the PLASA Show 2001 has begun! The entertainment technology industry’s leading event will run from 9-12 September at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London.

With over 89% of the available stand space already sold and all the leading manufacturers booked into the show, PLASA 2001 promises to live up to its reputation as the showcase event that launches the entertainment technology year. Venue improvements have continued, with over £500,000 invested in the last 12 months to improve comfort cooling at the Show. Furthermore, an overall investment of £6million will ensure that Earls Court is a fully air-conditioned exhibition centre by 2002.

Over 400 exhibitors and 14,000 UK and international visitors are expected to attend. Manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of professional lighting, sound and AV equipment will descend upon Earls Court to unveil their latest products and technical developments for the vibrant and hugely diverse entertainment and leisure industry.

Almost 13,000 visitors, including a record 25% from overseas, attended the PLASA Show last year. Specifiers, consultants, attraction managers, recording technicians, disc and light jockeys, technicians, architects, installers and other professionals from the world of entertainment technology travelled from all corners of the globe to see the very latest products, innovations and designs showcased.

The PLASA Show 2001 will feature many of the attractions that contributed to last year’s success including the PLASA Technology Gallery, a display of the product developments enter

Association News - PLASA Makes Training a Priority
Sunday, 1 April 2001

The first meeting of PLASA’s newly established Education and Training Steering Group took place in March.

Chaired by Dave Ward of the Gateway School of Recording, members of the Group include some of the key training providers in the industry, together with representatives of the trade press and the PLASA head office team.

The intention is that the Group will make recommendations to the PLASA committee on the way forward for training and education initiatives for this industry. Part of its remit will be to review ways in which PLASA can create a coherent and sustainable training structure which addresses not only those coming into the industry, but also those already in it. Issues such as accreditation, new technologies, health & safety and good training practice will all be addressed as part of PLASA’s training strategy.

In the first instance, PLASA is looking to identify the training needs of each sector, and as part of that is looking to add to its existing register of training courses. If you run a course, whether you be an academic institution or company/individual within the industry, please e-mail a brief description of the course, together with details of who it is aimed at to

ABTT 2001
Sunday, 1 April 2001

The ABTT Show is proving to be one of the best networking events for the theatre industry. L&SI was at London’s Horticultural Halls . . .

The show consolidated its core theatre roots, firstly by changing its name to the ABTT Theatre Show 2001, and secondly by widening its appeal to complementary sectors and actively targeting architects, consultants and specifiers of front-of-house services. This inevitably led to a broader range of products on the show floor and alongside the lighting, audio, AV and staging equipment, came front of house goods and services - principally seating, but also training, recruitment and licensing. This, in turn, led to more visitors and first indications are that the visitor figure was up a massive 72% over last year’s registered numbers . . .

The talk on the AC stand was of the company’s new HQ, the finishing touches to which, are being applied as we write and since we’re heading to High Wycombe in the next few weeks, you can read all the statistics in the next issue of L&SI.

Flightcases remain ADDA’s mainstay, but it has found a growing market in the range of all-weather protection systems that it distributes on behalf of OXO. The latest - Upside’Dome - has been modified since we saw it at PLASA and 34 were employed to protect the Vari-Lites at the Christmas illuminations of the London Eye.

Garwood’s range of in-ear systems were on the Amber Promotions stand. Garwood has recently introduced a new wireless microphone system to its range, as well as the new Airstream custom earpiece/microphone.

Home Nightclub Closed by Vice Squad
Saturday, 31 March 2001

PLASA Media has learned that Home nightclub in Leicester Square, London, has been closed after an undercover police investigation showed there was open and serious Class A drug dealing and usage at the venue. Westminster Council made the decision to revoke the club’s entertainment licence with immediate effect, at an emergency meeting following police advice. Chief Inspector Chris Bradford, of the Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit, said: "We felt it was necessary to take the unusual course of action in a bid to try and eradicate this serious and open problem from the premises.

"A full investigation has been carried out by my officers and we have explored many other courses of action to avoid having to make this application. Our actions in this case should act as a warning to other premises where there is a serious drug problem that we are prepared to take every step in our power to solve the problem."

It is believed to be the first time that a club of this size has had its licence revoked, police said.

Appeal to Save The Mermaid Theatre
Monday, 26 March 2001

London’s Mermaid Theatre, at Blackfriars, is appealing for support after being threatened with demolition by the site’s owners, Blackfriars Development Limited. The current owners plan to raze the building and replace it with an office block which will include a “conference-style” theatre, which will be barely a quarter of the present venue’s size, with minimal backstage facilities. The Theatre Trust and the organisers of the Mermaid Theatre Appeal are asking for support to prevent the Corporation of the City of London from accepting the application. More information is available from campaign coordinator Maggie Sutton at the ‘Save The Mermaid Theatre’ Appeal.

UK Crowd Management Association Launched
Saturday, 24 March 2001

The UK’s first ever grouping of crowd management companies took place recently, at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC The 13th) in London.

The UKCMA aims to raise standards within the industry and promote awareness of crowd safety issues among legislative bodies in the UK, as well as to foster co-ordination of training and operational standards. The lead is being taken by the inaugural members of the UKCMA, which represents the major players in crowd management. The need for recognised industry standards and a responsible approach to training has been a subject of much discussion within the security and crowd management industry. Whereas currently companies can provide personnel not trained in crowd management, whether it be pit work, minimum force, or response work, the recognition and call from the industry for nationally-accredited standards is one that can no longer be ignored.

Recent tragedies at major events from Denmark to Australia have re-focused the crowd management industry on the desire for a leading organisation. The UKCMA aims to set the wheels in motion to raise awareness of the importance of recognised training and operational standards, and in so doing, help prevent such tragedies happening again.

In the late 1970s, the crush-death of an audience member at a David Cassidy concert at White City Stadium in London led to the first Greater London Council code on crowd safety (the forerunner to today’s Pop Code). Since then, standards in the security industry have been driven higher year-on-year by the professionalism of its most exp

PRG Gains $125m New Credit
Monday, 19 March 2001

Production Resource Group (PRG) has announced that it has established new credit totaling $125 million with GMAC Business Credit, to support its strategic plans. This refinancing was coupled with the sale of PRG's Systems Group consisting of Signal Perfection Ltd and the Ancha and SPL-Integrated Solutions divisions, to a newly-formed entity controlled by shareholders of PRG and Systems Group management. "With such rapid expansion, there have been obstacles and growing pains. None the less, the hard work of the talented people that make up PRG and the new management we've implemented has significantly reduced our debt from $190 million to $110 million," says Jere Harris, chairman and CEO. "I attribute these achievements to the continual efforts of our employees. It's their diligence, dedication and teamwork that has directly resulted in improved performance."

PRG anticipates continued growth as the management changes and investments made in the past year take full effect.

Sound Department Returns to Market
Saturday, 17 March 2001

Directors of the newly-constituted Sound Department chose the Frankfurt Musikmesse this month to unveil their plans for the future.

Following the demise of the former Sound Dept, the new company will commence trading from an operating base in Banbury, Oxfordshire, at the beginning of April, under the executive management of Steve Smith (MD), Andy Simmons (sales and marketing director) and Peter Nicholls (FD).

The new company has consolidated its position with all the premier brands previously represented, and will act as exclusive UK distributor for Crest Audio, Community Professional Loudspeakers, Sound Advance, Level Control Systems (LCS) and Australian Monitor Industrial (formerly Audio Telex).

Other key members of The Sound Department team are technical support manager, Steve Badham, along with Bruce Francis, who will now run the service department from a self-contained unit in north London, in an endeavour to provide the utmost in customer service and support for the world class brands that the company represents. Steve Smith commented to L&SI: "The past few months have enabled us to fully analyse our business, and in some areas change our operating practice to become a more cohesive and efficient unit. On this basis we have approached all our suppliers with our new blueprint, and without exception it has been met with absolute approval."

Andy Simmons added: "With the full support of our suppliers we are looking forward to an exciting future, sharing in the many new product launches that are in prospect, and once again becoming a leader in audio

Battle for Dome Hots Up
Tuesday, 6 March 2001

Since the Government made the decision to remove preferred bidder status from Legacy plc, the battle for who gets to do what with the Dome has intensified. The Experience consortium, which includes promoter Harvey Goldsmith, has joined forces with the four-company consortium of Quintain, Lend Lease, Stanhope and Grosvenor. The latter has already been in talks with the BBC and the Tussauds Group, which may spur the revival of a 10-year-old plan for a giant theme park at Greenwich, first put forward by Tussauds long before the notion of a Millennium Dome was conceived. Any BBC involvement in the bid could involve turning the Dome into a theme park inspired by classic programmes such as EastEnders and Walking with Dinosaurs. This now places the consortium in a strong position to challenge the rival bid from the Dome’s former chief exec Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, whose bid is centred around retaining the Dome as a visitor attraction.

Showlight Pulls in Top Names
Sunday, 4 March 2001

Paula J. Dinkel, Peggy Eisenhauer and John Rayment will be the keynote speakers heading a formidable array of 21 top-class speakers at Showlight 2001.

Paula J. Dinkel, principal lighting designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, is currently leading the lighting design teams at Walt Disney Studios in Paris. Her paper ‘Theatre to Theme Parks’ owes much to her 20 years’ experience with Disney theme parks and retail projects, amongst them DisneyQuest in both Orlando and Chicago, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore and Club Disney.

John Rayment, the man responsible for the exciting lighting design of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, will discuss this experience in his paper ‘Olympics’. Beginning his career in seventies London, Rayment went on to become associated with the Sydney Dance Company, and was also one of Australia’s first lighting designers to go freelance and get an agent, allowing him the freedom to work on projects which have included drama, opera, musicals and events such as World Expo 88.

Peggy Eisenhauer, the only lighting designer to receive two double-nominations for lighting design, is talking about ‘Design Philosophy’. With partner Jules Fisher, she runs the successful Third Eye studio, a provider of innovative lighting design for some of America’s top shows, the most recent being the musical production of Jane Eyre which opened on Broadway in December. Her partnership with Fisher began some 15 years ago and they have gone on to collect many desig

Interactive Club Experience for Students
Friday, 2 March 2001

Mobile phone company Orange has kicked off its largest ever Student Union club tour: ‘Enjoy Music on Campus’ is a high tech clubbing production that transforms student unions into impressive clubbing venues. Orange is employing expertise gained through its extensive music sponsorship portfolio to take leading DJs and the latest technology to universities across the UK. The first event took place in February at the De Montfort Student Union in Leicester and throughout the coming months will visit universities from Belfast to Plymouth, to allow as many students as possible to Enjoy Music on Campus. The line up for the events include the Freestylers, Jon Carter and talent from Grand Central Records. The club nights are designed to support the launch of ‘Orange on campus’, a mobile phone package specially designed for students.

International Seminars at Pro Light & Sound
Friday, 2 March 2001

PLASA, the VPLT (PLASA’s sister association in Germany) and Trade Partners UK (British Government) have been working together to present three seminars at the Pro Light & Sound Show at the Frankfurt Musikmesse next week with simultaneous German/English translation. The first, on Wednesday 7th March at 12.30pm, covers ‘Cruise Ships and Events Technology‘ with Peter Ed of ETC Europe, Martin Lilly (Airtours/Sun Cruises), and Davey Smalley of BSS Audio. The seminar looks at event technology on cruise ships, revealing what requirements there are and which products and solutions are needed for these less than straightforward environments. The second seminar, on Thursday 8th March at 12.30pm, is entitled ‘German - English Trade’. Paul Robinson from the British Embassy in Berlin and Michael Schneider of Lightronic discuss the difference between the British and the German way of thinking and its marketing. It considers the differences in supply and demand and reviews the development of trade relations between both countries with regards to event technology? ‘Working on DMX, fog, rigging and others - the international standards situation.’Is the final seminar on Friday 9th March, again at 12.30pm.The standards officers of PLASA and the VPLT, Tim Cox and Eckart Steffens, discuss the importance of technical standards and review the various projects underway worldwide.For further details visit the VPLT/PLASA stand - A01 - at the show.

Bidding War at Dome Auction
Friday, 2 March 2001

News reaches us that the recent Dome auction turned into something of a bidding war and in so doing laid to rest fears that there would be a flood of cheap second-hand product hitting the market. Word has it that whilst there were some bargains to be had - top end lighting desks normally worth £15,000 upwards going for £7,000 - there were also numerous instances of bidders paying way over the list price for items. A 24-channel lighting control desk, for instance, which you can get for £525, was actually sold for £700, and this before the 10% premium buyers have to pay on all items. We also understand from our mole at the auction that numerous other items were attracting slightly higher or close to list price and one can only wonder at who out there has pockets so deep that price is not an issue. But not everything promised in the auction actually made it to the sale as the NMEC withdrew several items yesterday on the basis that it didn’t wish to prejudice the future use of the Dome - these included the Broadcast and Dome TV Suites and all associated equipment, together with plasma screens.By the time the auction ends at close of play today, more than 15,000 items from the Dome will have been sold and an anticipated £5 million will have been raised for an attraction that cost £800 million.

Gearhouse Group in Receivership
Thursday, 1 March 2001

The Gearhouse Group plc and a large number of its subsidiary operations have been placed in administrative receivership. A legal notice posted on the company’s website states that AR Bloom & AJR Wollaston (Ernst & Young) were appointed joint administrative receivers on 23rd February 2001. Over recent years, the Group, a supplier of professional presentation and event production equipment, for both rental and sale, to the corporate presentation, TV, film and live entertainment industries worldwide, had followed an ambitious programme of growth, acquiring a number of complementary companies and rebranding them under the Group banner. It appears from the notice that most of the companies within the Group are now in receivership - these include all the Gearhouse subsidiaries across the UK, Gearhouse LED Screens, Gearhouse Lighting, Gearhouse Special Projects, Gearhouse Structures, Gearhouse XTC, Impact Rentals, PPL Event Services, Presentation Services, Proquip Gearhouse, Sceneset and Set 'N' Stage.

Association News - New Faces Join PLASA Show Team
Thursday, 1 March 2001

Following recent internal re-organisation at Clarion Events, the PLASA Show organising team has undergone several changes of role, as well as several new additions.

James Brooks-Ward is now Group Exhibition Director at Clarion, responsible for eight trade shows and 30 staff. Part of his new responsibility will be the development of new business areas for Clarion.Sue Silsby now takes on the role of PLASA Show Director. She has worked at Clarion Events for the past eight years. most recently as Show Director for The Royal Smithfield Show. Stephen Ingram comes in as the new senior sales manager for the Show. He too has a great deal of experience, having worked on events including The Royal Smithfield Show and The Sunday Times Environment Show.

Julie Haddow joins the team as marketing manager, and will take responsibility for marketing all of Clarion’s trade shows, including PLASA. Over the past year, she has been working as venue marketing manager for Earls Court & Olympia. Another new face to the team is Rebecca Perry, who has been at Clarion Events since 1996, and has worked on The Royal Smithfield Show and The London Motor Show. She now joins the PLASA team as marketing executive.

Sophie Matthews joined Clarion in June 1998, as a show administrator for both PLASA UK and PLASA Presents Light & Sound Shanghai. She is currently the operations manager for both shows. Goli Vossough joined the PLASA team in December 1998 as a sales executive. After a year she made sales executive for the PLASA Shanghai show, and is now actively involved in selling for both.

Lisa El

Crossroads Brought Back into the Light
Thursday, 1 March 2001

An institution is coming home, when Crossroads returns to our TV screens in the spring. The soap is planned to fill the gap following the departure of Home and Away. Filmed in Carlton TV’s studio in Nottingham, Crossroads will be the new centrepiece in ITV’s daytime schedule. Second time around, Crossroads has moved up-market, from the original motel to a modern hotel with a beauty salon, bar and restaurant and this time will be lit by a range of . To ensure the perfect lighting, Carlton bought 144 channels of ETC Sensor dimming, supplied by AC Lighting. The returning stars from the Crossroads hall of fame are Jane Rossington (no relation to L&SI’s editor sadly) as Jill Harvey, Kathy Staff, who hangs up the wrinkled stockings of Last of the Summer Wine's Nora Batty and dons the uniform of much-loved laundress Doris Luke and waiting in the wings for a return later in the series is Tony Adams as Adam Chance, Jill Harvey's ex-husband.

Association News - PLASA AGM 2001 Speaker Announced
Thursday, 1 March 2001

PLASA has now revealed details of the first of its two speakers booked for the 2001 AGM and industry dinner, which takes place on June 14th at Coombe Abbey.

Paul Zenon (pictured right), is a magician and comedian who is well known for more than 100 television appearances and is a regular at the Comedy Store . . .Details of the second of the evening’s speakers will be announced shortly.

All PLASA members are encouraged to attend this enjoyable event. Contact Helen Kneale at the PLASA Office for details, or visit:


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