Bytecraft Automation has completed its investment in the UK stage machinery company, Caire Ltd. Bytecraft’s John Rowland told PLASA Media: "The acquisition of a controlling interest in Caire Ltd is the culmination of Bytecraft's five year strategy to achieve a European network of alliances and affiliates allowing us to offer stage automation and stage lighting solutions to our European customers." Bytecraft is one of the leading suppliers of stage automation control systems with major installations worldwide in cities including Tokyo, New York, Sydney, San Francisco, London, Melbourne and Paris. Bytecraft director Ted Fregon said: "The investment in the UK company Caire follows the opening of Bytecraft's Dutch operation in 1999. Bytecraft has now completed more than 10 projects in Europe and expects to complete a further 11 in the next three years."
The UK-based company will provide service, maintenance and customer support for existing Bytecraft installations in Europe, in addition to turnkey solutions for stage automation projects.
Bob Dean has joined LGH Rigging Services as commercial manager. He returns to LGH Group plc, having held the post of branch manager of the Slough Lifting Gear Hire location for three years. He has worked as a project manager in Malaysia and as a contracts manager, working on such key contracts as Canary Wharf DS5. His appointment is a further step in the continuing development of the LGH Rigging Services business - a specialist in the field of rigging equipment hire, offering, in addition, comprehensive operator training capability.
The 2001 PLASA AGM, along with the popular AGM Dinner, will take place on Thursday 14 June in the historic setting of Coombe Abbey, near Coventry. Set in 500 acres of parkland and dating back to 1150, this former Cistercian Abbey is now a thriving hotel and conference centre. In a slightly revised format for 2001, the day will include an opportunity for members to meet with key representatives of PLASA’s various operations in a number of small, hour-long ‘break-out sessions’. These will be organised as follows:
- PLASA Show - members of the Clarion Events show management team and members of the PLASA Exhibitor Forum will be on hand to discuss PLASA Show-related issues.
- Membership Services - PLASA’s head office staff dealing with membership services will be joined by consultants from certain of our service providers and members of the PLASA Executive Committee.
- PLASA Standards - PLASA’s Technical Standards Officer Tim Cox will be joined by consultants and other of PLASA’s standards representatives to discuss Standards-related topics.
As part of PLASA’s aim of increasing the opportunities for useful communication with its members, these sessions are intended to provide an informal environment for discussion, feedback and questions. PLASA’s managing director Matthew Griffiths comments: "We hope these sessions will prove a valuable use of the time between the AGM and the start of the evening’s entertainment. By offering the chance of an informal meeting with key representatives of the Association, we h
Following on from the success of the last three year’s events, Tomcat UK has announced that it is hosting its fourth annual Hoist & Rigging Workshop on May 30 to June 2, 2001. This year’s workshop has been extended from three days to four to enable extra tuition to be included, specifically in the area of fall arrest, and to allow the participants to have more ‘hands-on’ instruction. The tuition will be held at the Pacific Road Theatre, Birkenhead, UK. As well as the fall arrest tuition, performed by Steve Jervis of Protecta International, Wally Blount from Columbus McKinnon will again be providing instruction on the Lodestar range of electric chain hoists. Nick Brown and Pete Smith of Unusual Rigging will be giving their usual entertaining class on rigging practices and principles, whilst Mike Wells of Tomcat engineers Parkhill, Smith, & Cooper Inc, will be supplying information on proper truss usage and inspection. As in previous years the tuition will be provided alongside the social activities that have helped make the course so popular with experienced professionals and newcomers to the entertainment industry alike. More information is available from the e-mail address below.
The manufacturer of one of the most popular forms of rigging hardware, Slick Systems, has been acquired by one of its biggest customers, Outback Holdings. In a move that results in Outback acquiring the building, assets and worldwide manufacturing rights, the company will be relaunched as Slick (UK) Ltd, whilst continuing to operate from the Leek plant. "We’ve two main objectives with this deal," commented Outback Holdings managing director, Mark Surtees. "We initially want to ensure the continued supply of Slick to its loyal customer base, but our ultimate goal is to build the credibility of the system within the industry and to make Slick (UK) a more competitive company." No redundancies will result from the deal, although the shareholders and directors of Slick Systems will not be part of the new venture. "This is a significant move for Outback. As one of Slick’s biggest customers we understand the potential for the system. We intend to invest in its future and promote it to a wider audience," commented Surtees. Outback Holdings is the holding company for Outback Rigging, Outback Services, Trapeze Rigging and Mushroom Lighting.
Vertigo Rigging was called in to design, fabricate and install a completely new grid system into the famous Shaftesbury Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London’s West End theatreland. The month-long grid refurbishment project started directly after the get-out of the musical Napoleon which had completed its run at the theatre - a complex production also rigged by Vertigo.
The grid project was managed and overseen by Vertigo’s Ken Mehmed and all the new equipment was manufactured in Vertigo’s workshops in Bermondsey. Across the entire 140sq.m grid area, Vertigo stripped out all the old timbers from the Shaftesbury’s drop wells and replaced them with steel box-beams, two per bay. These beams have channels on the top for up and downstage adjustment of the drop pulleys and all connections were fitted with neoprene packers to reduce noise transfer through the walls to the adjacent building. A completely new set of sheaves and cables were fitted to bring it up current specifications.
With the new beams in place, runners can be spread between the drop wells across the stage, and additional sheaves and diverter pulleys can be inserted to spread the load. The result is that all the weight is relieved from the theatre’s timber joists and the load is applied to the main roof trusses and walls of the building. The new system is highly flexible and will offer productions an additional degree of versatility for the flying of scenery, props, drapes, LX bars and additional trussing or metalwork. Vertigo worked on the scheme in conjunction wit
InspHire Ltd, providers of hire management systems for hire companies, has signed a Partnership Agreement with Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions. inspHire will offer Great Plains Dynamics and e-Enterprise solutions as the fully integrated Back Office solution for inspHire’s SQL Edition. With a long history of working together to deliver new business technologies, the two companies are joining forces to provide a package for small and medium companies. Andy Beal, inspHire MD told PLASA Media: "The signing of the Partnership Agreement between the two companies was the culmination of a two-year search for a suitable Back Office partner to integrate into inspHire SQL Edition. Great Plains' purchase by Microsoft, together with the VBA tools available to us in the end, made it an easy choice. Not only will we be able to offer the same level of two-way integration with our hire system, but our customers will have the benefit of using a Microsoft branded accounts system in use in 130,000 businesses in 132 countries worldwide."
Slick Systems, the Staffordshire-based trussing manufacturer set up by Michael Wood in 1976, has gone into liquidation, PLASA Media has learned. The company had manufacturing facilities in the UK and the USA.
A meeting of creditors will take place at 11.30am at the Radisson SAS Hotel at Manchester Airport on 25 April 2001. The appointed liquidator is Messrs. Radfords, 12 Portland Street, Southampton, SO14 7EB.
Point Promotions have announced a 72% increase in attendance at last week’s ABTT Theatre Show. The show this year expanded into both of the Royal Horticultural Halls, and had widened its remit to attract 30 new exhibitors. The initial un-audited visitor attendance figures show an increase of 72% over last year’s registered numbers. Point Promotions was appointed by the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) to administer the change from the ABTT Trade Show to the bigger and improved ABTT Theatre Show. The expanded show featured on-stage technology such as lighting, rigging, drapes and sound and also many exhibitors with front-of-house technology including seating and staging.
Following lengthy negotiations, which actually began in the bar at the Live! Awards, The Event Safety Shop has appointed Tim Roberts as senior consultant. The Event Safety Shop is a partnership between well-known event managers Dick Tee and Mike Richmond, and has a rapidly growing client base of people looking for specialist safety advice. Roberts will oversee the day-to-day running of the company, including the presentation of safety policies and other paperwork for production companies and risk assessment for large-scale events.
Matthew Tonks has joined Stage Technologies as project manager. Tonks, formerly a project manager with Glantre Engineering and more recently with Impact AudioVisual, will concentrate on the company’s growing cruise installation work.
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
Glyndebourne Opera House in East Sussex has a new control system for its three electrical bridges, supplied and installed by Suffolk-based AVW Controls. The system, an upgrade of that installed seven years ago, provides Glyndebourne with absolute control of the bridges, each of which weighs seven tonnes and is capable of lifting 2.5 tonnes. Rather than disrupt the production schedule, the work was completed during the first two weeks of December 2000, while the Opera was on tour. The upgrade was the second phase of a contract originally undertaken by AVW as a sub-contractor to the erstwhile Glantre Engineering, the first phase of which involved upgrade work on the bridges themselves. Following Glantre’s demise, Glyndebourne contacted AVW direct, and is very pleased with the results. Dave Locker, production manager, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the new control system which AVW has supplied and installed. Being easy to use, staff have been able to assimilate the new system quickly, reducing the amount of time needed for training."
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."
London-based Staging specialist Maltbury has supplied Ambideck staging systems to the Combined Services Entertainment (CSE), the organisation which provides entertainment for British Soldiers serving around the world. The CSE stages more than 125 live shows in foreign locations every year. Four tours were recently undertaken to Bosnia and Kosovo at the tail-end of 2000, and it was for these shows that the Ambideck was specified. CSE technical coordinator Dave South had previously used Maltbury’s Steeldeck system, but opted this time for Ambideck, saying: "The reason we bought Ambideck this time was the superior design. Ambideck is simply stronger and better, and meets our needs perfectly."
Edwin Shirley Staging, the international concert staging company, will be providing all the staging and general contracting services for the Backstreet Boys as part of their forthcoming South American tour. This part of the tour will last two months and visit four different countries and will end with a concert in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 20 May. Staging for the tour will involve a provision to hang an 8 tonne video screen suspended from a 25 metre high roof with 12 metre PA wings. ESS will be acting as project manager, hiring local subcontractors to provide equipment and labour.
PCM has completed its first five-day intensive Rigging School 2001, which proved as popular as ever with 51 attendees. The course attracted a diverse range of applicants - from newcomers to those employed in all sectors of the professional rigging, show presentation, performance and entertainment industry. As with all PCM’s training initiatives, the Rigging School is run on a no-profit basis. The concept of the Rigging School was the brainchild of PCM’s John Jones, a committed and vocal advocate of the furtherance of professional training in the entertainment and production industries. The Rigging School is co-ordinated by PCM in conjunction with several like-minded associate companies - Vertigo Rigging, James Thomas Engineering, MAN Flying Systems, Columbus McKinnon, Rope and Lifting Technology, Rope Assemblies and the Liverpool Community College (LCC).
Vertigo Rigging’s Paul Nichols and Dave Brierley ran the rigging section of the course, while aluminium trussing specialist James Thomas Engineering conducted a section on trussing and ground support systems. Representatives of MAN Flying Systems taught the basics of PA rigging, Rope Assemblies provided a selection of equipment for inspection, while health and safety expert Euan Turner of S4C gave a presentation on the LOLER regulations in relation to the entertainment rigging industry. Also Integral to the course was a special Lodestar Motor School, tutored by Tony Dickson of PCM.
PCM’s next rigging school is scheduled for February 2002.
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.
Rigging specialist Summit Steel has supplied a custom solution to a hanging problem for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as it embarks on the weighty matter of presenting the entire Henry VI canon, plus Richard III, non-stop, at the University of Michigan. The central scenic device for the production revolves entirely around a ‘hanging’ scenic device as conceived by set designer Tom Piper. At the Swan, this was an adaptation of an existing catwalk, fitted with two trap doors, through which siege ladders could be lowered through for storming the castle walls. Jon Bray of Summit Steel was called in to look at the problem. He explains: "It’s quite a simple device but used in complex roles; actors lowered through on ropes for example, the siege ladders, and in one instance the catwalk itself is used for a fight scene on castle ramparts. It does get very busy up there."
What the RSC needed for the US was something that was venue independent, pre-assembled, and transportable in kit form. "The decking has been built by Scott Fleary in Battersea and is 15m long by 3m wide, mounted to a platform made from our own trussing," explained Bray. "To facilitate all the props, and the raising and lowering of people and equipment, we’ve constructed an upper level of truss structure that houses all the wire winches, pulleys and other mechanical aids supplied by Foys and ourselves."
Summit Steel has appointed Chris Walker to the senior role of project manager. Many will know Walker from his time at ‘rigging.co.uk’, his own company, which specialised in major rigging projects, not least several years organising many extensive productions for Cisco Systems, the world’s largest corporation. Besides major industrial shows, Walker’s rigging background also includes theatre and concert touring; Aerosmith, The Beautiful South, and several years spent with Riverdance, to name just three.
Recently merged Blackout Triple E has appointed two well-known industry names to its management team - Eric Porter and Simon Chandler-Honor. Having worked in a freelance capacity in the industry for over 23 years, Porter joins the Blackout Triple E team as project manager, and will be the rigging aspect of the operation. Having been involved in the industry for most of his working life, Simon Chandler-Honor also joins as a project manager and will help the company develop its catalogue of national and international projects. Another new member of staff expanding the sales division, is Jonathan Langlands, who has joined as technical hire and sales manager.
The management team at Presentation Services Ltd (PSL), has purchased the assets and business of Gearhouse Group PLC’s Southern UK operation, together with the company’s North American operations. These include PSL and PSL Central, Lighting Unlimited, Set & Stage, Proquip, Presentation Graphics, Gearhouse Multimedia, ConferenceCast and Quorom Travel. In the US, both the Los Angeles and Nashville companies have been purchased. The transaction was concluded on Saturday 3 March and equity funding has been secured for the new company through 3i, with Barclays providing debt funding. The new Group is to be called Presentation Services Group Ltd; all of the companies will be relaunched under the PSL name and will continue to focus on the rental, staging, exhibition and concert touring markets. The new management team comprises Gary Davis, Chris Scadding, Darren Glossop, Irene McLean, Janet Smith, Stephen Rhodes and Nasser Abbas.
Following the news last week that the Gearhouse Group and a large number of its subsidiary operations have been placed in administrative receivership, Avesco PLC has acquired the Midlands and North divisions of Gearhouse Group PLC for £4 million. We understand that the business and assets acquired include the operations in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow and at the NEC.
PCM kicked off 2001 by continuing its on-going commitment to industry training, taking its award-winning Lodestar Motor School across the globe to South Africa. PCM’s John Jones and Tony Dickson held three Schools - one in Cape Town and two in Johannesburg. This is the second time John and Tony PCM have visited South Africa for training and Motor School purposes. The last time was in 1998 when the course was run in conjunction with SARA (the South African Roadies Association) to provide 16 of its members with much needed training opportunities. The Schools were attended by 16, 20 and 28 people respectively. Most students were relatively inexperienced, and travelled from all corners of the country to take advantage of the opportunity. PCM’s John Jones comments: "It’s really great to be back in South Africa and to add continuity to the work we started two years ago.. We continue to be impressed by the hunger to learn and the energy and commitment shown by those wanting to make a career in the production industry."