General News

Annexe Closed Down
Friday, 14 July 2000

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.

Interactive Auditions!
Thursday, 13 July 2000

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 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.

Stage Stars Challenge Chancellor
Tuesday, 11 July 2000

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."

Autograph Donates Technology & Time to LIPA
Tuesday, 11 July 2000

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.

White Light Lighting Bursary 2000
Tuesday, 11 July 2000

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.

Dome Decision Imminent
Tuesday, 11 July 2000

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.

ESTA Draft Standards for Public Review
Friday, 7 July 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 Announces Year End Motor Schools
Tuesday, 4 July 2000

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.

Leeds T&CC Closes
Monday, 3 July 2000

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.

Roskilde Raises Issues of Crowd Safety
Monday, 3 July 2000

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.

New PR Company Launched
Monday, 3 July 2000

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.

Dome Staff Paid to Stay
Tuesday, 27 June 2000

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.

Candover Concentrates on Club Sector
Monday, 26 June 2000

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.

Second Fatality at Earls Court
Monday, 26 June 2000

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.

Lastminute Links to SFX
Monday, 26 June 2000 has joined forces with promoter SFX to offer the latter's products to'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's website. If the new arrangement is successful, the companies plan to extend the agreement into other European countries.

Kaiser Quits Opera House
Friday, 23 June 2000

Michael Kaiser, executive director of the Royal Opera House, has resigned. Kaiser, who has been in the job less than two years, plans to leave by June 2001 and return to America. He is the latest in a long line of executive directors to leave the Royal Opera House and his decision comes at a time when the House seems at last to be putting behind it the funding controversies and technical problems that dogged its reopening.

Geldof Outlines Plans for 2001 Party
Friday, 23 June 2000

Bob Geldof is planning a major New Year's Eve event in London. Through his company, 10 Alps, he has won the contract to stage a spectacular show in the capital which promises to build on last year's River of Light New Year's Eve celebrations. To help him on his way, he has managed to secure £1.5m of Lottery Funding and is now looking for sponsors to weigh in with their contributions. No details have emerged yet of what's been planned, but we will keep you up to date as we learn more.

Industry Recognised in Birthday Honours
Friday, 23 June 2000

The Queens Birthday Honours list paid tribute to a number of those working on the creative and technical sides of the arts and entertainment industry. Theatre director, and more latterly Oscar-winning film director, Sam Mendes was rewarded with a CBE for his services to drama. Two of the principal talents behind the Dome were also honoured; Timothy Gardom, responsible for the content of the body and faith zones, becomes an MBE, while Mark Fisher receives an OBE for his work as creative director of the Millennium Show staged in the Dome's central arena. Vivien Duffield, a director of the Royal Opera House for 14 years who is credited with raising £100m for the recent £214m refurbishment, was awarded a DBE, whilst Neil Bartlett, artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith, and Derek Deane, artistic director of the English National Ballet both received OBEs.

PLASA 2000 AGM and Industry Dinner
Tuesday, 20 June 2000

PLASA's annual AGM took place at The Belfry Hotel near Birmingham on June 15th, attended by around 60 representatives of member companies. PLASA Chairman Mick Hannaford reported on a successful year for the Association which had seen key advances in the range of services and initiatives offered to members. He also covered the Association's review of its Code of Ethics, outlining the way in which a Code of Business Ethics and an Appeals Procedure might be implemented. It is a move the Association has been wishing to make for some time and will give PLASA more direct powers to act in the interests of all the members by dealing with companies who fail to meet certain standards. Afterwards, the Members voted in favour of adopting the Code.PLASA Treasurer Sammy de Havilland then outlined the financial position of the Association noting that it had reached its reserve targets and was now in a strong position to drive new initiatives forward. Following the AGM, PLASA MD Matthew Griffiths gave a brief presentation on the future of the Association. He talked first about the PLASA Show and how successful the Exhibitor Forum had been in influencing its shape and format. He also highlighted the introduction of a number of new features for the Show this year, including a new technology showcase. Matthew then referred to one of the key projects PLASA is pursuing this year – that of qualitative and quantitative Industry Research on which subject he handed the floor over to facilitator Phil Pratt who explained to members the rationale behind the Industry Research programme. During th

PCM - Next Motor School Dates
Tuesday, 20 June 2000

PCM is running its next two-day Columbus McKinnon Lodestar Motor Schools on 27-28 June and 29-30 June respectively. PCM has now trained over 800 owners, specifiers and users of Lodestar Motors via these invaluable hands-on workshops. PCM's Motor Schools, which are still free of charge, offers attendees a comprehensive, hands-on overview of the CM Lodestar motor. There is also a basic motor trouble shooting session. Once again, the event will be broadened by trussing, ground support and metalwork specialists James Thomas Engineering. Further Motor schools will follow throughout the year as part of PCM's on-going commitment to training.

PSA Announces Changes
Monday, 19 June 2000

The Production Services Association (PSA) Council announced on June 14th that some significant changes are to be made in the day-to-day running of the Association. Keith Ferguson is now to concentrate fully on the Training and Qualifications initiatives. He will also move forward with his role as a trustee of the Welfare & Benevolent Fund, which recently achieved full charitable status. Consequently, a search for a new general manager is to start shortly, with a view to securing an appointment by the end of the year.

Roxsett Bosses on Drug Charges
Wednesday, 14 June 2000

PLASA Exclusive: The company responsible for trucking the Spice Girls' tour kit have landed in hot water following the arrest of two of their number charged with smuggling Ecstasy, worth £3.5million, into Britain. Roxsett's MD David Wilson and general manager John Lewis have both been arrested following a swoop by customs men at Dover who stopped the Roxsett truck when it arrived back in the UK from The Netherlands. Sniffer dogs found the Ecstasy stashed between audio and lighting equipment. Both men appeared at Dover Magistrates Court last week and pleaded not guilty. Bail has been refused and the two now face a Crown Court trial.

Broadcasters Support New Talent
Monday, 12 June 2000

Leading names in the world of sound and lighting are supporting the next generation of broadcasters by sponsoring the students of Ravensbourne College of Design and communication, South London, in their Ravensbourne on Air showcase, on Wednesday 14 June. Strand, Pearsons, Yamaha, Avolites and Primarc are just a few of the companies which have thrown their weight behind the event by lending equipment to or directly funding the students at the National Centre of Excellence for Broadcasting to facilitate the programming of the six-hour schedule. The day is an opportunity for representatives from the broadcast industry to see for themselves the direct relevance of Ravensbourne's courses to their particular area of the industry.

Introducing Sphere - a studio complex for the 21st Century
Friday, 9 June 2000

An old laundry in South West London is now a 'hard hat' zone as work gets underway on the construction of Sphere Studios - the most ambitious music recording complex to be built in the capital for many years. The new studio is set to rival London's finest and will operate as a fully commercial venture incorporating three main control rooms dedicated to tracklaying, stereo mixing and 5.1 surround mixing. The main partners behind Sphere are musician and producer Francesco Cameli and Malcolm Atkin, formerly general manager of Sir George Martin's Air Lyndhurst facility. During the construction of Air Lyndhurst Atkin was involved in all aspects of its design and later took responsibility for its commercial operation.


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