March 2015

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March 2015

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

The Excitement Starts in March

In the earliest Roman calendar March was the first month of the year. The Romans were also quite accomplished at the public spectacle and building immense venues for the sole purpose of hosting these events. With these two thoughts in mind, it seems appropriate that the USITT Annual Conference and Stage Expo will once again this year be held in March.

For many of us, the conference serves as a kick-off to new learning opportunities as well as inspiration to accomplish the tasks ahead. While it is the culmination of a year’s worth of work, it also begins, in earnest, the work toward the next conference.

As for the spectacle, we’ve got that covered as well. A general definition for spectacle refers to an “event that is memorable for the appearance it creates” and anyone that spends any time on the expo floor can see that first-hand. There are plenty of other examples of spectacle on a variety of scales. There are sessions with legendary designers and practitioners, exhibits covering every design genre, live competitions championing a variety of skills and expertise, and celebrations of work well-done – all of it memorable.

For those of you who’ve attended the conference in the past, this is not news, but as I write this the number of registrations is indicating that we’ll have more attendees in Cincinnati than at any previous conference in our history!

Two years ago in my March Sightlines article there were also sure signs of growth which I talked about at that time. I also talked about the perception that USITT is a student focused organization and for many that perception still exists. Yes, people desiring and studying to have a career in the production side of the performing arts and entertainment industry between the ages of 18 and 22 are an important part of our membership, but they are only a part.

We are continually asked to provide conference programming that challenges those well along their career path both in terms of access to new technology and advanced skills in existing technologies, processes, and techniques. As we’ve expanded our education and training options beyond the conference location and timeframe, we’ve learned by those that opt for those opportunities that learning cannot end once a degree is achieved. The advances in technology have necessitated an acknowledgement of the importance of continuing education and training throughout a career. Employees who want to be more productive have begun to realize that a broader set of skills makes that possible and opens doors to new job possibilities. Ultimately it’s the realization that what one was taught when a student was only the tip of the iceberg.

USITT represents people all along the continuum that is our industry and it has the responsibility to move those interested to points beyond their current knowledge regardless of the generation to which they may be assigned. This means, as members, we have individual responsibility to this charge as well, so let’s gather in Cincinnati in a couple of weeks and make a spectacle of learning!

Lea Asbell-Swanger

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