General News

PLASA Offers Human Resources
Wednesday, 24 January 2001

PLASA (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association) has recently introduced its latest addition to the range of benefits which it offers to members. PLASA’s new Human Resources service, set up in conjunction with CP Associates HR Consultancy, provides PLASA members with access to professional help and advice with personnel issues. The service is designed to offer practical, independent advice, based on the latest factual information available, and covers areas including contracts & terms of employment; disciplinary and grievance procedures; employee benefits; employment legislation; pay reviews; recruitment and selection; risk assessment; redundancy and absence control.

To use the service, members simply call the PLASA office, and are then given the telephone, fax or e-mail address of CP Associates. They are then entitled to 15 minutes of free advice on any one subject. Where a more detailed or specific consultation is required, PLASA has negotiated highly preferential rates for its members. These might include personnel procedure audits, contracts of employment and staff handbooks, setting a human resource strategy, and new personnel policies or systems. To safeguard the viability of the service, it can only be used by a member company’s PLASA contact or managing director.

PLASA’s Membership Services Manager, Norah Phillips, comments: “We aim to offer our members real advantages in the areas of business and information, and this is the latest in a series of new services which we have introduced with this in mind. We believe that this new fac

Garner Takes Important Role at the EAA
Tuesday, 23 January 2001

Janet Garner, managing director of Wembley (London) Ltd, was appointed Executive Secretary of the European Arenas Association (EAA) at its recent meeting in Barcelona. The EAA is the largest European co-operative association of arenas with 13 members spread across 12 countries and further expansion is expected. From a new base in a majestic canal-side house in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the EAA aims to help the arenas to think and act as a group and to exchange information with each other. 2001 will be the EAA’s tenth anniversary.

Dome Goes Under the Hammer
Saturday, 20 January 2001

The Ministry of Sound’s New Year’s Eve bash at the Dome, not only ushered in the New Year, but also ushered out the old Dome.

The ‘Closed’ sign has at last been hung and all that remains before the new owners move in is to clear the place. Ironically, the auction of its contents will in all probability attract more interest than the attraction itself. Auctioneer Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the Dome’s contents. Under the hammer goes all the lighting, audio visual, broadcast and sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment and office furniture. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show will be for sale including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and rigging.

The assets are to be disposed off over the next three months by both Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway, and includes many of the themed zones, in their entirety or in substantial parts. The majority of assets will be sold by Public Auction, which will take place over four days - 27th/28th February and 1st/2nd March.

2001 Olivier Award Nominations
Friday, 19 January 2001

Lighting designers Howard Harrison, Mark Henderson, Paul Pyant and Hugh Vanstone and scenic designers Bunny Christie, William Dudley, Rob Howell and Brian Thomson are amongst those nominated for the 2001 Olivier Awards, the nominations for which were announced by the Society of London Theatres.

Harrison was nominated for his designs for The Witches of Eastwick and To The Green Fields Beyond, Henderson for All My Sons at the National Theatre, Pyant for Hamlet, also at the National, and Vanstone for The Cherry Orchard at the National and The Graduate in the West End. Of the set designers, Christie was nominated for Baby Doll at the National and then in the West End, Dudley for All My Sons, Howell for The Caretaker and Thomson for The King and I, covered in L&SI’s June 2000 issue.

The National’s revival of All My Sons took the most nominations of any production, with its six contributing to the National’s total of 22 nominations. The Witches of Eastwick, covered in L&SI’s August 2000 issue, also received nominations for Best Musical, Best Costume Designer (Bob Crowley), Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Riding) and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Rosemary Ashe). Witches will compete with The Beautiful Game (L&SI December 2000), Fosse (L&SI April 2000) and Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse in the Best Musical category.The awards will be presented on February 23rd in a ceremony at the Lyceum Theatre; the presentation will be recorded for later transmission on BBC2.

Scientists Claim to Have ‘Frozen’ Light
Friday, 19 January 2001

The Boston Globe newspaper has reported that US scientists say they have stopped light, held it in one place and then let it go again. The Harvard University team is due to publish its findings later this month. It is thought that light, which normally travels at 186,000 miles (300,000km) per second could, if ‘tamed’, be used to relay information around high-speed computers. Scientists Ronald Walsworth and Mikhail Lukin are expected to publish the details of their experiments in the January 29 edition of the journal Nature.

Fireworks Industry Gets New Trade Association
Wednesday, 17 January 2001

The fireworks industry has combined resources to form a new trade association - The Guild of Firework Pyrotechnic Operators (GFPO) - in an attempt to improve professionalism through training and improve working practices to reduce accidents. The GFPO was launched yesterday at Event Expo at London Docklands Arena. Its membership will initially be drawn from event industry professional and semi-professional firers, though it is hoped subsequently to widen the membership to amateurs. As part of its remit, the GFPO plans to standardise working practices for people firing fireworks, and have a nationally recognised set of graded standards.

ESTA Website Difficulties
Tuesday, 16 January 2001

The ESTA website has been having some difficulties since Monday, January 8th. Wybron, which hosts the ESTA website and all its e-mail aliases, was forced off-line when its service provider went bankrupt and terminated all service without notice. Wybron has been able to create a temporary dial-up connection for the ESTA server, which should allow email through, although access to the website will be very slow. ESTA wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused. Until the problem is resolved, all ESTA web services will have limited accessibility. Therefore, please use the following alternate email addresses to contact the ESTA staff, in order to ease strain on the temporary connection:

Hall Heads Team at ROH
Tuesday, 16 January 2001

Tony Hall, the BBC's head of news, has been appointed the new executive director of the Royal Opera House. Speculation has been rife as to who will succeed to what is fast becoming one of the most challenging roles in the arts world. His appointment is almost certain to generate controversy, as he seems to have had little or no experience in running a venue of this profile and complexity, although his time at the BBC, which saw him graduate from the corporation's newsroom in Belfast in the 1970s to editing the Nine O'Clock News and subsequently heading the news and current affairs side, will no doubt serve him well. Michael Kaiser, former executive director, left in December to return to the United States.

Tussaud’s, Vegas
Saturday, 13 January 2001

Following our feature last month on the new Tussaud’s in New York, we switch coasts to look at Tussaud’s Vegas’ debut at the $1.4billion Venetian Hotel.

The Venetian, with its indoor Grand Canal (complete with gondolas, singing gondoliers and stylish waterside cafés), is the perfect host for the Tussauds Group’s celebration of all things celebrity.

Madame Tussaud’s is to be found within the St Mark’s Library building which, of course, is a full-scale replica of the famous Venice landmark. Tussauds has created a $20million experience that showcases glamorous personalities, many of whom have ties with Vegas, in sumptuous surroundings. The design elements of the exhibits have been thoughtfully executed with talent and kit pulled in from around the globe to make this Tussaud’s a dazzling experience, even by Vegas standards. Show producer Phil Pike spent a year at the drawing board at Tussauds’ London base before relocating to Vegas for a further six months prior to opening night in mid 1999.

A striking aspect of the exhibition is the scale of the setting for the 100 or so wax figures, with the sets and interiors all designed in-house by Tussauds in London and constructed by American company WestSun Design Edge Studios who also sourced the lighting equipment, which came from a variety of manufactures. McLean Media in Toronto were responsible for the complete audio-visual installation.

LDs Mark Henderson and Stephen Wentworth lent their considerable talents to enhancing the unique environments. Both LDs have a long associ

Stagetec Get NICEIC Accreditation
Friday, 12 January 2001

Stagetec (UK) Ltd has just been appointed an approved by contractor by the NICEIC which maintains a Roll of Approved Contractors that meet the Council’s Rules Relating to Enrolment and national technical safety standards including BS 7671 (IEE Wiring Regulations). This is designed to protect consumers against the hazards of unsafe and unsound electrical installations.

Busy Christmas On-line for Cereco
Monday, 8 January 2001

Christmas week was Cereco International’s busiest week since the launch in September of its web-based lighting and audio equipment auction. Cereco’s John Lethbridge reports that in the period between 27 December and New Year’s Eve, over £7,000 worth of product was snapped up by several individual first-time buyers. There was a last-minute battle between five bidders for 42 ETC Source 4 Pars that started at £50.00 each and closed at £65.00 each. John Lethbridge puts this success down to the fact that people had plenty of time to be on-line over the holiday period. Also, most of the bidders are now subscribing to Cereco's free weekly e-mail newsletter that keeps them informed of the latest deals and action on the website. The site specialises in new and ex-demo equipment supplied by leading manufacturers and distributors, rather than ex-rental equipment, although some of the equipment sold over the Christmas period had come out of Expo 2000 in Hannover. A new auction starts every Thursday evening and initially runs for 10 days, after which time, unsold items are re-submitted. Viewers can also make off-line offers where there are no bids in place.

IoA Conference
Saturday, 6 January 2001

The Institute of Acoustics (IoA) held its 16th conference on Reproduced Sound in November - and much of the varied content was relevant to the theatre and live music industries.

Multi-channel sound reinforcement was a topic that generated a large amount of interest, with presentations from David Malham (University of York), Fred Ample (Technology Visions), Robin Whittaker (Out Board Electronics) and Steve Ellison (Level Control Systems). It was clear that the demand for higher-quality audio environments is growing rapidly.

Robin Whittaker explained the theory of source-oriented reinforcement and illustrated its applications from the wealth of theatre, industrial and music productions that Out Board has undertaken. Whittaker concluded by stating that the concept of source-oriented reinforcement has several key benefits; namely, the minimisation of room effects, even distribution of SPL and tonality and improving the direct-to-reverberant energy ratios to improve intelligibility.

Steve Ellison explained LCS’ drive towards improved multi-channel control of live audio. The Matrix3 system, with its CueConsole and Ethertracks add-ons, represents Ellison’s vision of the future of multi-channel systems; completely integrated playback, routing, processing, mixing and distribution. A further presentation from Ellison and Markl Poletti of Industrial Research in New Zealand, on the LCS Virtual Room Acoustic System, showed how such an integrated system could be expanded still further.

Two further developments were worthy of note: Duran Audio in the Netherlands has ta

Glastonbury Cancelled Over Crowd Fears
Friday, 5 January 2001

Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis has cancelled this year's event because of fears about crowd safety. The festival, which was first staged in 1970, had been under fire from his local authority after thousands of fans sneaked into last year’s Festival. The 2000 event has left Eavis facing prosecution over alleged breaches of the festival licence, and he says he hopes his decision will send out a message that organisers are taking the issue seriously. In a statement he said: "After much deliberation and consultation I have now decided not to run the festival this year." He added, however, that he has every intention running the Festival in 2002. Eavis’s decision follows the deaths of nine crowd members at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark last year. Eavis has commented that the Roskilde tragedy has made organisers and authorities more concerned about crowd numbers.

Playlight’s Mike McMullan Dies
Thursday, 4 January 2001

PLASA Publishing has learned of the death from cancer of Playlight founder, Mike McMullan, who died peacefully at home on Tuesday 3rd January, surrounded by his family. A statement from the directors and staff of the Playlight Group said: "Mike was one of life's great characters, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him."

The funeral will take place next Wednesday 10 January at 1.00pm at the Altrincham Crematorium, Whitehouse Lane, Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire. The family has requested that instead of flowers being sent, donations be made to the following charities: St Ann's Hospice, St Ann's Road North, Heald Green, Cheshire; the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, 11 London Road, Bromley, Kent; or the Lymphoma Association, PO Box 386 Aylesbury.

Brits Nominated in US Event Awards
Tuesday, 2 January 2001

The UK Events industry has received an important accolade on a world-wide scale, with four companies from the ISES (International Special Event Society) UK Chapter nominated for awards at the ‘Special Event’ to be held this January. Nominees include The Moving Venue (Best Off-Premise Catered Event), The Special Event Company (Best Multi-Day Event), Vok Dams Gruppe (Best Achievement in Technical Support), and The Full Effect has received nominations in an impressive three categories (Best Corporate Picnic, Best Entertainment Concept over $50k, and Best Theatrical Production). The final judging takes place in New Orleans during the Special Event Show, with the Awards and Gala Dinner being held on 13th January. "It’s a tremendous achievement for the Brits to get so many nominations from the 375 entries submitted," said ISES UK Chapter president, Sally Webb. "The UK Special Events Industry is up with the leaders in terms of new, innovative and creative ideas, and this has been reflected with many British award winners over the past few years."

Association News - Parental Leave Regulations Briefing
Monday, 1 January 2001

Since late 1998, major new requirements have fallen on employers and enhanced rights have been granted to employees through the National Minimum Wage, Working Time Regulations and Disability Discrimination Act. Revised legislation has also raised the unfair dismissal compensation limit to £50,000.

If all this has come as news to you, then it would be worth your while taking advantage of PLASA’s new Human Resources Service. The advice you receive will clarify the current legislation so that you and your staff don’t end up in a dispute.

For instance, when the Parental Leave Regulations were updated in December 1999, the existing entitlements were revised. Parents became entitled to 13 weeks’ leave per child before the fifth birthday (subject to a four-week annual ceiling in blocks of one year), a ruling which also applies to adoptive parents or those of children with disabilities. Maternity Leave was extended from 14 to 18 weeks and all employees now have the right to take unpaid time off to deal with family emergencies.

The Human Resources Service can advise PLASA members on all the above - it will also highlight other issues such as the Data Protection Act of 1998, the Working Families Tax Credit and the New Stakeholder Pension schemes, all of which have placed additional burdens on employers.

Don’t get it wrong out of ignorance. If you need further advice, call PLASA now and we will help.

Association News - PLASA Highlights Personnel Issues
Monday, 1 January 2001

New service introduced to help members through the complexities of running a company.

Ever mindful of the growing burden legislation places on businesses, PLASA has launched a new service designed specifically to make life easier for its company members.

The new Human Resources Service, set up in conjunction with CP Associates HR Consultancy, provides PLASA members with access to professional help and advice on personnel issues.

The service is designed to offer practical, independent advice, based on the latest legislation, and covers areas including contracts & terms of employment; disciplinary and grievance procedures; employee benefits; employment legislation; pay reviews; recruitment and selection; risk assessment; redundancy and absence control.

To give you an idea of the type of information you could receive through this new service see the Briefing panel to the right. To use the service, members simply call the PLASA office, and are then given the telephone, fax or e-mail address of CP Associates. They are then entitled to 15 minutes of free advice on any one subject. Where a more detailed or specific consultation is required, PLASA has negotiated highly preferential rates for its members. These might include personnel procedure audits, contracts of employment and staff handbooks, setting a human resource strategy, and new personnel policies or systems. To safeguard the viability of the service, it can only be used by a member company's PLASA contact or managing director.

Huntington in Control
Friday, 29 December 2000

If you’re interested in how control systems and computers are used in the live entertainment arena, then John Huntington’s latest book will not disappoint.

Control Systems for Live Entertainment has become something of a bible for those who seek a better understanding of control systems. In this updated and revised version, Huntington has revised his original work in answer to the changes of the past six years. He covers the new technologies that now operate in the field, although perhaps the most important change has come not in the technology itself, but the level to which it is now being used. Huntingdon addresses the challenge of how to adapt these technologies to purposes for which they were never designed. Covering control for lighting, lasers, sound, video, film projection, stage machinery, animatronics, special effects and pyrotechnics for theatre, concerts, theme parks, themed-retail, cruise ships, museums, corporate and other events, the second edition includes sections on all major entertainment control standards, methods and protocols, including DMX512, MIDI, MIDI Show Control, Sony 9-Pin, SMPTE Time Code and many others. It also addresses the basics of control systems and data communications, including EIA serial standards, in addition to offering information on networks for entertainment applications, including the all-important Ethernet.

Huntington also casts his expert eye over system design concepts and case studies featuring realistic problems and practical solutions. Drawing on his extensive experience in the field and classroom, John Hu

Brit School
Sunday, 24 December 2000

It’s still difficult to think of Performing Arts High Schools without images of multi-coloured leg warmers and ballerinas armed with high octane welders flooding the visual horizon. The movies Fame and Flashdance still have a lot to answer for in terms of how we view formal training within the arts.

A visit to the Brit School in Croydon quickly annihilates those dated eighties images and replaces them with a slick, contemporary vision where leg-warmers (if they’re worn) are disguised beneath cool student attitudes and dedication to the various artistic and technical vocations on offer. With the recording industry backing the Brit School, it’s no surprise to discover that the music courses are well developed and until recently the school emphasis fell in that direction.

The school’s production manager, Caroline Heale, was brought in with a brief that included updating the school’s main performance venue and raising the profile of the technical courses. The school has two other spaces that are used for minor performances, workshops and as teaching spaces. The ‘Tent’ is a large, open space with an ingenious coupling of a truss system and copious quantities of black tabs and the third space, the Garrett Studio, is a 50-seat space, mainly used by the Theatre Department.

The school takes students through GCSE courses with a wide array of subjects available. The MPA (Main Performance Area) is well-equipped for a high school, much to the credit of the technical department. There are 36 100kg point hoists arranged on tracks and contr

USITT Appoints General Manager
Friday, 22 December 2000

Tom Scharff has been appointed the new general manager for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. Scharff joins USITT from Cornell University where he was general manager of the Cornell Center for Theatre Arts. His career as a theatre administrator includes work as managing director of the new Repertory Theatre in Boston and business manager for Theatre and Dance at the University of New Hampshire.

Dome Auctioneer Appointed
Friday, 22 December 2000

Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.

The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.

Support for Birmingham Fringe
Thursday, 21 December 2000

Cause & Effect, the organisers of the 2001 Birmingham Fringe theatre festival, are looking at the possibility of holding collaborative projects with entertainment technology companies during the 2001 festival, in order to demonstrate the contribution made by them to technical theatre. Project director Derrick G Knight told us: "My motivation is to enhance Birmingham as a host city for performing arts. This will be achieved through the development of a network of performance venues in partnership with the performers, venue owners and production companies associated with performing arts." An initial idea is to include a sound and lighting exhibition alongside the festival, which takes place in July and August 2001, and Knight is currently exploring the availability of no-cost exhibition space at a number of venues adjacent to the reserved performance spaces. For further information is available from the number below.

Live Music Online
Tuesday, 19 December 2000 is a new on-line development that has been specifically created to be amongst the first to explore a whole host of new opportunities that have arisen from the Broadband Internet revolution.

The site, launched in late November, is devoted entirely to live music, drawing from the strengths of company partners Wembley plc, The McKenzie Group (owners of three live music venues - Brixton Academy, Shepherd’s Bush Empire and the new Birmingham Academy), UK concert promoters SJM Concerts, Metropolis Music and one of Ireland’s leading promoters, MCD; plus technical partners Virtue TV, Europe’s leading Internet broadcasters.

WTV is distinctive in content and style, featuring "as it happens" tour news and a new Pay Per View Broadband Broadcasting Service. This enables the subscriber to watch a performance as many times as he/she likes during a 24hr licence period. Users get not only unlimited access, but also a digital quality transmission, with full viewer interaction in some cases. By 2004, research estimates that over 40 million households in USA and Europe will be subscribing to Broadband services - in other words in excess of 100 million new viewers.

WTV will also offer other services including on-line ticket selling, concert reviews, artist interviews, competitions, auctions - in fact anything and everything dedicated to all aspects of live music. The four venues owned by the partners are being hardwired in preparation for the filming of live music events and other interested venues nationwide are being approached.


Saturday, 16 December 2000

The newest destination for UK clubbers is CODE, located at the aorta of Digbeth in central Birmingham. CODE is the first superclub and permanent venue owned and operated by legendary club promoters God’s Kitchen.

The stylish, contemporary interior design is by Matt Rawlinson of Raw Design, and the stunning effects lighting design is by Carl Dodds of Making Light Work (pictured with Avolites’ Azure console). All lighting fixtures for Dodds’ rig were supplied by Coe-tech to installers, Dublin-based Audio-Tek, with the Avolites Azure 2000 control console supplied directly by Avo to Audio-Tek.

The club’s main dance floor is overlooked by a balcony, with the VIP area in the ‘Gods’ at the top of the building, an atmospheric former warehouse, built in the 1930s. Dodds chose a variety of instruments for his high-impact rig, which was to be put in the hands of a specialist team of lighting operators.

The rig consists of Futurelight MH660s, MH640s and eight of the new MH 860s - the first in the UK. These formed the core of the rig and were joined by eight Futurelight SC980 scanners, 16 CC200 colour-changers, four TAS Versicolore spots and eight TAS 1500W Saetta strobes. Additionally, there are four TAS CF6 luminaires, a Coemar NAT TM 4000 and two JEM hazers.

Dodds chose an Avolites Azure 2000 controller plus a Stage Visualiser system for the installation as he needed a console with the power and speed to deal with an action-packed lighting rig and the plethora of fixtures. The Stage Visualiser is used in ‘live’ mode to enable t


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