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."
TiLE will be the official European Show of The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). TiLE is aimed at those who have an interest in the future of location-based leisure attractions, whilst TEA is an international alliance of the world's most talented and experienced professionals in the themed attractions industry. The decision coincides perfectly with the 10th anniversaries of both TiLE and TEA and recognises the close relationship that has built up between the two; the European Chapter of TEA (now TEA Europe) was launched at TiLE 1998 in Strasbourg, France, and has become one of the fastest growing chapters of TEA.
Following the announcement of the new administration and management set-up of the PSA, a substantial package of new benefits for members has been unveiled. A new membership pack has been produced which includes a personal membership identity card, pre-paid subscriptions to appropriate magazines, training information and course dates, training booking forms, a diary section, book list and contacts, plus a new, truly interactive web site which is updated daily. Birmingham-based Business Media Services Ltd (BMS) recently took over the role of administrative and membership operations of the PSA office. Bob Fox, the head of BSM, told PLASA Media: "It is our aim to ensure that members of the PSA get the maximum possible from their association with us. We have put together this new package to increase the benefits that membership brings."
Elissa Getto has joined Theatre Projects Consultants as senior theatre consultant in the Norwalk, Connecticut office. She will be a principal member of the team conducting performing arts feasibility studies and advising on a wide range of administration issues. Currently she is working on major studies for the Lincoln Centers in both New York and Dallas. Prior to joining TPC, Getto served as CEO and President of the Westport Country Playhouse, Connecticut and was also president of the Cincinnati Arts Association and an executive director of PACT Inc.
James Thomas Engineering has supplied its Spanish distributors, Madrid-based Bofil & Asociados, with a unique stage set/tower system for production company Snake.
The system was custom-designed and built by James Thomas in the UK for an extensive domestic tour by top Spanish music artists Miguel Bose and Ana Torroja. This is the first time the two have performed on a twin-headlining bill, and the tour completely sold out within hours of being announced.
The incredible aesthetics of this set were created by James Thomas’ project manager Paul Young, collaborating with stage designer Ignace D’Haese and JTE’s structural engineers The Broadhurst Partnership. It’s based on three 14m high stand-alone towers, complete with self-climbing cross beams - connected via custom sleeve blocks that interface with 20cm trussing to make up a T-shape. The cross beams contain lights and glide up and down throughout the performance. The towers themselves are constructed from 52cm SuperTower - a product specially conceived by JTE for this project.
Another key feature of the towers is that they have no guy wires. They utilise 4m outriggers and ballast weights - four points of 1250kg, and are built to withstand high winds at outdoor shows. The biggest challenge was making the towers free standing, whilst ensuring their bases were unobtrusive. It was possible to dispense with the guy wires because of a combination of the strength of the SuperTrussing itself, and the carefully calculated ballasting. The footprints of the towers are concealed below the stage, the radius
Harry Donovan and Jay Glerum are presenting a series of seminars on principles and practices of arena and stage rigging. A four-day class will run in Las Vegas from March 12-15, covering the principles and practices of arena and stage rigging. This will also feature a day's session with Rocky Paulson covering personal safety and fall arrest. Further courses will run in Orlando from May 6-9 and in Chicago from June 25-28. Donovan and Glerum are nationally recognised in the entertainment industry for their knowledge of stage and arena rigging, and this is the ninth year they have conducted these rigging seminars.
A couple of new developments on the performing arts front. Ballast Construction has won a £14m contract to build the Laban Centre in Deptford, including 13 dance studios and a 300-seat theatre, whilst Newcastle City Council is currently reviewing plans with Newcastle University to develop a £60m arts and heritage complex at the Playhouse theatre site at Barras Bridge. Leisure development continues apace: Government approval has been given for a £30m leisure development at Gloucester Docks which will include a multiplex cinema, restaurants and retail units. Associated British Ports, meanwhile, has submitted plans for a new leisure and retail development at Alexandra Dock in Grimsby, including shops, a restaurant, pub and possibly a hotel. Isle of Wight Council is considering plans from Godshill Park Developments for the creation of a 60-bedroom hotel and conference centre in Wootton and finally Leicester City has won approval to build a £35m 32,000-seat football stadium at Freeman's Wharf.
Edwin Shirley Staging is helping AC/DC to rock in Australia as part of its massive world tour. The company has won the A$250,000 contract to provide all the structures and staging for the Australian stretch of the tour that has so far seen concerts in Perth, Hobart and Canberra. The AC/DC stage is a massive 45m wide by 21.6m deep. In total 29,620kg of equipment (the weight of over 300 people) is being hung from the steel work supporting the inflatable roof. The visual extravaganza features a 30ft moving statue, six cannons that fire during the show, as well as a giant bell that moves up and down the stage, carrying a member of the band at one point of the show.
On 1st February 2001, PLASA went online with its brand new website at www.plasa.org. The new site is the latest development in the six-year history of PLASA’s online presence, and continues the organisation’s aim to provide the premier online resource for the entertainment, presentation and event technology industry worldwide.
The new site further develops the extensive and freely-available information resources offered to the industry by PLASA. Now available are fully-searchable databases allowing fast, easy and flexible access to the full listing of 450+ PLASA members; 1,500 industry news items in the online news archive; a comprehensive calendar of industry events, and over 100 titles in PLASA’s Technical Book Service.
PLASA’s Managing Director Matthew Griffiths comments: "Aside from the great new look of the site, I’m especially pleased with the new keyword-search facilities. We provide the opportunity - for free, and within a matter of seconds - to find every news item that a particular company has appeared in on the PLASA News website over the past 18 months. The same applies for searching the membership database for companies, products and services, or for finding details of worldwide industry events. This is what the industry has been demanding from a website like ours, and we’re pleased to be offering such a truly beneficial service."
In addition to providing a valuable resource to the global industry, the new site has been designed to represent all the diverse aspects of PLASA as an organisation - including the A