November 2012

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October 2012

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Giving Thanks for Safety

High school theatres come in all shapes and sizes, and with a huge variety of equipment and needs.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas


USITT has just closed the fourth round of applications for the Rigging Safety Initiative, and the success of this program continues to grow. More than 35 inspections have been done in 18 states.

Those inspections are followed by the equally important basic safe operations training at each school. Think about the number of students who cross those high school stages each school year, and realize we are affecting the safety of thousands.

Many individuals have given financial support to the Rigging Safety Initiative. These gifts encourage us as we work towards funding every application. While we are a long way from that reality, we can certainly continue to strive for it.

Along with individuals, we've had three corporations in the past year step forward with support. ETC, Shepard Exposition Services, and H&H Specialties have all made gifts. Their commitments to the Rigging Safety Initiative is more than $25,000. This kind of commitment from the industry, along with the founding support of J.R. Clancy shows the importance safety in our schools holds.

"The Rigging Safety Initiative is one of the most important things USITT has undertaken since the creation of DMX-512." That statement, made by one of our members, says a great deal about this organization and its desire to fill a need. As school budgets get trimmed each year, the arts are often on the edge of that knife. This includes facilities, not just programming. This reality makes the importance of programs such as this one more and more evident.

I recently fielded a phone call from a high school staff member saying, "I need someone to evaluate my theatre; it's not safe, and I heard you guys can do something about that." While not wholly true, I explained that we can be a conduit to vital resources. Within a matter of moments, I was able to use the online directory to find the members closest to her zip code that provided inspections. She said she had the ear of the school administration and needed to move quickly. Because I was able to give her multiple options, all within 25 miles of her school, she could do just that.

USITT uses its name and reputation to increase awareness of technical theatre safety across the United States and the world. Our work to provide training and support for safety is getting noticed. It shines a light on both the problem and the solution, initiated by USITT. This is all because of the strength of our members --individuals and corporations – who make things happen by supporting the Institute.

Thanks to those companies and individuals who continue to make Rigging Safety a priority. Thanks to all our donors who make each of our programs successful through their financial support. With gifts of all size and members who support the Institute by promoting its work and programs, we continue on our path as a vibrant organization.

David Grindle

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