April 2013

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April 2013

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Why Can't You Change the World?

On a recent drive with my family, we stopped at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Since we were traveling with two sons who wish to be engineers and scientists, it seemed like a fun yet nerdy stop for our family. The phrase "why can't you change the world" is on all of their admissions material. I looked at it and thought, "Yeah, why not?"

RPI is home to the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). For a school with no theatre, music, or dance department, it's an amazing facility -- at an Engineering School that asks its students why they can't change the world.

While touring the facility with Johannes Goebbels, the director, our family saw the performance spaces where artists and technicians were working and talked about the concept behind the facility. People use the facility for developing ideas in which technology and art interact. Because the spaces are dedicated to one team at a time, they may work in ways that are productive towards completing their research. It might result in a performance; it might not.

Video clips of performances are shown. In one, a pianist is interacting with video. The tempo and dynamics of the music trigger the images. It was really cool. Someone had an idea and found a way to make it work. From there, new ideas can flourish and innovation can continue.

We've just come off of our cornerstone event, the Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Interacting with other designers and technicians is refreshing and fun, but also invigorating. For 53 years we've been about collaboration and innovation. The height of that tends to come off the Conference when we are tired but enthused with collaborative spirit. It is at that time that we can change the world.

Last year, we funded research into sustainability practices in our industry. The members who did that came back with incredible ideas that will lead to new discussions, projects, and potential Institute activities and partnerships with other organizations. It will change the world. It changed their definition of sustainability. They each came from different viewpoints, but found a common ground in new information. That is changing the world.

Spring is the time of renewal. It's the time the world changes again from death to life. But if the ideas within you aren't released, they can't grow and change the world.

Fifty-three years ago, some people thought we should have a place to exchange ideas and collaborate. They changed the world. It would be disrespectful of us to think we couldn't follow their lead and do the same.

Bring ideas to the table, collaborate, and follow through with those discussions you had in Milwaukee.

Change your world, because you can.

David Grindle

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail David at david@usitt.org.