Rage, a West Midlands-based professional theatre company, has just been awarded a three-year grant from the Neighbourhood Support Fund to set up and run a new touring company - the Rage Ensemble. Over a period of 30 weeks, professional artistes will assist 12 young people in the creation, rehearsal and performance of three theatre productions which will be toured around the West Midlands. The Ensemble is made up of young people aged 16-19 who are unlikely to enter into further education or employment and aims to provide them with the skills to assist them into further education or employment. Rage is looking for companies to support them in this aim by making a donation of ex-demonstration lighting and sound equipment or by providing equipment at cost price. ETC Europe and Strand Lighting have already committed their support to the venture.
Production Resource Group (PRG) has announced that John M. Hovis has joined the company as president and chief operating officer. In his new position, he assumes responsibility for all aspects of the company's day-to-day operations, specifically overseeing all field operations as well as the corporate Information Technology, Human Resources and Finance departments. Hovis comes to PRG from RailAmerica, where he was senior vice-president and chief operating officer for North American operations. John E. Cunningham Jr. has also joined the company as chief financial officer of the Lighting and Audio Group. He is located in the offices of Production Arts and comes to PRG with almost 20 years' experience in finance, including four years as a chief financial officer and three as a consultant.
Tune in to Carlton ITV tonight . . . Cameron Mackintosh's The Witches of Eastwick, which opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Tuesday is to be the subject of a television documentary intended to go out at 11.30 this evening. Entitled Dance with the Devil - The Making of The Witches of Eastwick the programme offers a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for the world premiere of Cameron Mackintosh's new musical comedy, starring Ian McShane. Mary Nightingale interviews both the stars and creative team working on the production. If you can't stay in tonight or your video's broken, you can also read all about it in the August issue of L&SI.
Stagetec has released version D05 software for the Compulite Spark 4D, Micron 4D and Ovation 4D consoles. The software is a result of an ongoing development and includes a whole host of new features including better manual control of chases, facility to assign macros and pages directly to memories and a system protect function plus many more. The software can be downloaded from the Compulite section of Stagetec's website.
London's first ever floating opera will take place on the River Thames in late July. Split across two dates - 26 and 27 July - the two performances of Fleeting Opera: Birthright will run first at Battersea Park and then on the following evening at the Albert Embankment. The water-borne initiative, which will see opera singers, musicians and dancers perform from a barge while being towed up the River Thames (which should prove enough of an attraction in its own right), is a collaboration between the Royal Opera House and the Couper Collection for the String of Pearls Millennium Festival.
ESTA has announced that the draft standard BSR E1.6, Entertainment Technology - Powered Rigging Systems is available for public review until October 10, 2000. The draft standard establishes safety requirements for the design, manufacture, installation and use of motorised rigging systems in theatres, theme parks, studios and other places of public assembly and performance. The document does not address manually-powered systems or lifting equipment used in the construction of these spaces. Copies of the document are available from the ESTA website.
Bronx, New York-based City Theatrical has been named in the second annual Inner City 100 listing by Inc. Magazine and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), in recognition of the innovative lighting accessories manufacturer as one of the USA's top urban entrepreneurs. The list honours fast-growing companies located in urban cores outside the central business districts of America's cities. City Theatrical was placed 43rd on the list, with a sales growth rate of 296% and a compound growth rate of 41%.
Four new directors at large and two new officers have joined the leadership of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). William J Byrnes, who was elected in 1999, assumed the office of president on July 1st after serving a year as president-elect. Byrnes, an award-winning lighting designer, is associate dean at the Florida State University School of Theatre, has served as a member of USITT's executive committee since 1987, most recently as vice-president for marketing and development. He is the author of Management and the Arts, a comprehensive textbook on arts administration, now in its second edition.
After months of research, UK-based Navigator Systems has appointed the Premier Technology Group as distributor of its best-selling rental management software, HireTrack Eclipse, to cover sales in Australia and New Zealand. As a well established and highly-respected company within the entertainment industry, the Premier Technology Group are an obvious choice to foster HireTrack Eclipse throughout Australasia, say Navigator.
The Annexe Club in Dean Street, London, is to close. The 250-capacity venue, located in the heart of Soho, was designed by Shaun Clarkson (Jerusalem) and was well known for its many promotional nights including Trash, Milk 'n' 2 Sugars and Soulsonic. We understand the club may reopen as a bar/restaurant called Opium.
The Rocky Horror Show, possibly one of the world's most famous musicals, returns to Broadway in the Autumn but it won't have come together in the traditional way. The show's producer has teamed up with online service Broadway.com to launch the first-ever online casting call. Aspiring performers can submit audition tapes, the best 20 of which, will be posted online allowing visitors to the site to vote for the best performance. The two winners will be announced on August 11th and the final cast will be confirmed the following week. The show is expected to officially open on Broadway on Halloween night, with previews starting October 3rd.
Autograph Sound Recording has announced its association with the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), commencing with the donation and permanent installation of a CADAC A Type mixing console for the Paul McCartney Auditorium, the college's largest live performance space. The tie-in with LIPA also includes Autograph sharing their 27 years of live sound design and rental experience with the Sound Technology degree students, by undertaking a regular series of live theatrical sound workshops.
Chancellor Gordon Brown has received a letter from some of Britain's leading stage actors -including Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Michael Gambon and Sir Derek Jacobi - in which they urge him to "meet the challenge of rejuvenating our regional theatres as a key creative industry." The letter claims that British regional theatre is in crisis, and warns: " . . . for far too long lack of adequate funding has led to a decline in working opportunities, to fewer new productions and to smaller casts. Unless additional funding is made available - and directed into productions and work on the stage - we could well face a two-tiered system of quality of theatre provision between London and the regions."
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and other ministers yesterday listened to the two final proposals from bidders vying to take over the Millennium Dome next year. Culture Secretary Chris Smith then told Parliament that a decision on the future of the venue was imminent. The two proposals are for an "urban entertainment resort" from Nomura International's Dome Europe, or a hi-tech campus of offices and workshops proposed by the Dome Legacy consortium. Each bid is thought to be worth around £100 million ($151.7 million) for the site in Greenwich, London, but government officials refused to confirm the figures and denied it had already decided to give the deal to Nomura. The Dome cost £758 million and was propped up with another £29 million cash injection in May.
White Light's Lighting Design Bursary - now in its third year - has been extended to include any student over the age of 18 studying lighting design in the UK. Launched in 1998 as part of The Training Inititaive, White Light's wide-ranging training and education programme, the Bursary was only open to Lighting Design students at Rose Bruford for its first two years. As in earlier years, the Bursary involves students initially producing a short synopsis outlining a project they would like to light. Students selected at this stage are then invited to develop their concept into a full lighting design proposal (within a theoretical budget) and a 'pitch' for that proposal, which they must present to a panel of industry professionals. This year's competition offers a prize of £500 for each of up to three winners; the prize presentation, which for the last two years has taken place at the Royal National Theatre's annual lighting designers' luncheon, also offers a useful chance to make new contacts within the lighting industry. The 2000 Competition offers an additional prize: the overall competition winner will be sponsored to attend the internationally-acclaimed Showlight lighting conference, which takes place in Edinburgh from May 21st-23rd 2001. Full Competition details are available on the White Light website. Those interested in taking part must register their interest by the end of August 2000, with the deadline for the submission of synopses being September 18th 2000.
ESTA (Entertainment Services and Technology Association) in the United States has announced that the following draft standards have been made available for public review. - BSR E1.3, Entertainment Technology - Lighting Control Systems - 0 to 10V Analog Control Specification - BSR E1.7, Entertainment Technology - Recommended Practice for the Design and Use of Manual Systems for Flying Performers - BSR E1.10, Entertainment Technology - Minimum Loading requrements for Theatre Stage HousesIn each case, the review period closes on September 12, 2000.ESTA has also announced the start of a Standards-Drafting Project for Theatrical Boom & Base Assemblies.
PCM's CM Lodestar Motor School training sessions have been scheduled for September 18th and 19th immediately after PLASA and also on 28th and 29th November. The two-day course, which will be held at PCM's HQ in Prenton, Wirral, has now been modified and streamlined to include an operational session on the use of the Lodestar Motor in addition to the usual hands-on assembly, disassembly and troubleshooting of the hoist. Once again, the event is broadened by trussing, ground support and metalwork specialists James Thomas Engineering, who will present a half day course on truss usage and its interaction with motors.
One of the UK's best known live music venues, the Leeds Town and Country Club, has closed its doors. Formerly the Coliseum, the 1,800-capacity venue first opened its doors in October 1992 and has since played host to many high-profile acts including INXS, Blur, Mark Knopfler and The Stone Roses. It's not clear what will become of the venue, but there have been suggestions that First Leisure plan to re-open it as a theme bar and nightclub. Live music is taking something of a bashing in Leeds at the moment. In March came the announcement that the Duchess, a stalwart of the national gig circuit, was closing. It has been confirmed this week that it will reopen as a Karen Millen fashion outlet.
An investigation has been launched following the news over the weekend that eight fans had been crushed to death at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen. Several others were also injured in the incident which occurred around midnight on Saturday when American rockers Pearl Jam were performing on stage. The front section of the 50,000-strong crowd slipped and the injured were trampled underfoot. Worryingly, the news reports covering the event have, in part, pointed the finger of blame at the sound system, claiming that the rear loudspeakers were not working thus forcing the audience forward. Oasis and the Pet Shop Boys both pulled out of the festival as a mark of respect for the dead, although other bands have chosen to play on. Technical investigations are being carried out and emergency support services have been set up on-site.
Following over two successful years with Propergander, Anna Morgan has left to form new public relations company, Media Ink. Launched in June, Media Ink provides a comprehensive public relations service to the events industry. The company has moved into offices in Wembley overlooking the Arena, and will work with clients across the spectrum, from the rock 'n' roll arena to corporate clients.
Despite the well-publicised financial crises at the Dome, managers and staff are to receive loyalty bonuses totalling up to £3 million. The payments are intended to reverse the exodus of Dome personnel in recent months - over 400 of the 2,000-strong team have already left - and reward staff who see out their contracts. The bonuses seem to go against the grain of recent cost-cutting measures and include payments to four board directors, with former chief executive Jennie Page, also in the line-up for a hand-out. £2 million will be shared between the Dome's 300 managers, while a further £1 million will be split between the 900 hosts who show visitors around.
PLASA Publishing has learnt that there has been a second fatal accident at Earls Court. The venue owners have confirmed that the accident occurred at 7.10pm on Friday 23 June and that the individual involved was working for Unusual Rigging, who are contracted to the venue. EC management and the relevant authorities have launched an investigation into the incident. The news comes six months after the death in December last year of a rigger working on a backstage event for the Spice Girls, who fell 80 feet whilst breaking down the after-show party. An investigation into that incident is still ongoing.
Just months after buying the chain from First Leisure, Candover has sold its 14 Brannigans bars, along with six other pubs, for £67 million. The new owner is Mustard Entertainment Restaurants, a recently-established venture backed by investment company Phildrew Ventures. Candover secured the Brannigans bars last November, as part of its £210.5 million acquisition of First Leisure's 40 nightclubs and 25 bars. It intends to keep the remaining bars and has also signalled its intention to expand its portfolio of nightclubs.
lastminute.com has joined forces with promoter SFX to offer the latter's products to lastminute.com's subscribers. Both companies have been much in the news lately, lastminute for its share issue and SFX for its expanding empire - the company operates and manages 79 venues in the UK, including several major West End theatres. Under the terms of the deal, SFX will market any unsold tickets from its own distribution network on lastminute.com's website. If the new arrangement is successful, the companies plan to extend the agreement into other European countries.