May 2013

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May 2013

News From

Around the Institute

Comments Continue to Roll in, Outlook Bright for Fort Worth

We are still getting very positive feedback from all the great exhibitors, sessions, and parties in Milwaukee. And, yes, the temperatures were a bit less than optimal, but we already have promises from our friends in Fort Worth that they will have warmer days and enjoyable nights when we visit next March.

It is wonderful to read how our members experience their time at the Annual Conference. One example, from Kate Gibson, of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, presents it very well.

It was gratifying to read what others felt about participating in the USITT governance process as the guinea pigs for the Board Leadership Initiative.

Friedrich Wins Cowboy Boots

Speaking of Fort Worth, congratulations to M.C. Friedrich whose name was chosen at random to receive the custom-made cowboy boots from the good people at the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Make sure you ask her to show them off once they are created.

Tharp Shares Envelopes, Memories

We thank Henry Tharp, former Secretary of the Institute, for continuing the frugal tradition that is so tied to our success. Henry, a USITT Fellow, made sure to return unused envelopes from his years of early service to the organization. He shared ballot envelopes and a stack of the standard number 10s with the 1501 Broadway, Room 1408, location. More interesting were his comments about that particular USITT office in New York City, and the envelopes where 1501 Broadway was crossed off with a broad stroke and the new 330 W 42nd St., Suite 1702 street address added with a rubber stamp. Our younger readers may not even understand the thump, thump, thump of repetitive rubber stamping, but it sure was fun.

Heading to UMass

Rafael Jaen, a member of USITT's Board of Directors, has been named the University of Massachusetts performing arts department's first costume design professor. Starting this fall, UMass students will be able to benefit from Rafael's more than 25 years of design innovations. "Students will be trained and be able to go on to graduate school for MFAs and go on for careers in costume design. They couldn't get that training before we had a faculty member devoted to this area of study," said Dr. Robert Lublin, chair of the performing arts department.

Mackay Co-Chairs TEA Summit

Congratulations to Pat Mackay on successfully co-chairing the 2013 TEA Summit in California. The two-day event from the Themed Entertainment Association included featured speaker Matt Ouimet and was held in conjunction with the Thea Awards Gala, a spectacular event.

Australian Backstage Innovation Now in USA

StageBitz, the world’s first online system for managing props, costumes, and scenery, headed across the Pacific to launch in the United States at the Milwaukee 2013 Conference & Stage Expo.

Each year millions of props, scenery, and costume items are created at a cost of billions of dollars. Many of these items are used only once, resulting in a massive waste of time, effort, resources, and money for the industry. StageBitz solves this problem by providing a collaboration platform in the cloud for directors, designers, makers, buyers, and managers to capture the design, technical, and usage information they need to get their projects up and running. It also provides an automatic company inventory feature which will allow companies to manage their assets as well as hire or sell unwanted items online.

Founder and CEO, Catherine Prosser, was excited to be presenting the innovative product in the United States. Interest is already mounting in the USA for this Australian innovation, and USITT welcomed StageBitz. USITT Executive director, David Grindle sees StageBitz as more than just an innovative product. He sees it as a game-changer in the way industries collaborate.

Mr. Grindle explained, “Companies like StageBitz have a product that not only benefits the industry in Australia, but benefits people everywhere. They were able to bring their innovative product to one of the largest entertainment economies, and they can collaborate with other businesses to share ideas and grow innovation.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with Catherine Prosser, call +61 417 304 362 or e-mail