OISTAT World Congress:
A Resounding Success
OISTAT, the international organization of scenographers, theatre architects, and technicians, met in March in Toronto, hosted by USITT and CITT. For many years it was held in Prague (OISTAT's original home), and in 1999 the 11th World Congress was held in Berlin as a part of Europe's largest stage technology trade show, Showtech.
The 12th World Congress seemed to be a blend of old and new. It was held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, a hotel that abounds in "old world charm," crystal chandeliers, rich warm wood paneling, and exceptional service - like Prague. It was held in conjunction with the USITT Conference & Stage Expo, a lively, upbeat forum for production design and technology and, of course, North America's largest stage technology show. And, in the midst of these North American and international activities was the wondrous gem - World Stage Design 2005.
For colleagues that elected to stay the entire Sunday through Saturday week, it was a week of boundless energy and superb international activities. It was a great week!
The purpose of a World Congress is to review the work of the last four-year period, and then elect a president and executive committee for the next four-year period. Following the election is a meeting of the newly elected president and executive committee with the heads of the OISTAT Commissions. This group is called the Governing Board and develops OISTAT policy.
Secretariat to Move to Taipei City
The actual World Congress, a four hour session, took place on March 14. There were a number of notable reports and announcements at the meeting. The 125 attendees, including voting delegates, delegations, USITT and CITT members, and special guests, were welcomed by Presidents John Uthoff (USITT) and Maija Pekkanen (OISTAT), and CITT Treasurer Al Cushing (filling in for President Graham Frampton). Following President Pekkanen's opening remarks was a significant announcement. Austin Wang of Taiwan Association of Theatre Technology (TATT) extended an official invitation from his government to OISTAT.
The Council for Cultural Affairs of Taiwan has offered to support OISTAT's secretariat (for a period of at least 10 years) in Taipei City. The details will be worked out during the next few months. This will be the first time OISTAT's secretariat will be outside Europe. The move from Amsterdam to Taipei will be opportune. There is great activity and energy in the Pacific Rim countries within OISTAT. To have a strong presence in Asia will allow OISTAT to be sensitive and act quickly on ideas and projects being developed in the region.
At the same time, OISTAT will continue to have a project coordinator and office in Amsterdam, to round out OISTAT's worldwide presence. OISTAT has always had a close and dynamic relationship with its two North American centres, CITT and USITT, so a strong presence will continue to be felt in this region of the world.
During the past four years, OISTAT has reviewed and extensively revised its statutes and developed a new governing group, the Governing Board. These changes along with the new or newly revitalized international relationships and offices in Taipei and Amsterdam and ongoing ties to USITT and CITT, provide OISTAT with a strong, energetic, and diverse base for future development and projects.
Korea to Host World Congress and WSD 2007
In addition, Jeong Hyun Yang of the Korean Centre of OISTAT (KTAA), announced that the Korean Centre was very serious in their intentions to host the 2009 OISTAT World Congress and World Stage Design 2009. Our Korean colleagues are hard at work determining whether the 2009 events will be hosted by an Asian consortium or by KTAA alone. The opportunity to have several OISTAT Centre's working together to undertake this large project is, in itself, exciting.
Michael Ramsaur Elected President
Michael Ramsaur (USITT) was elected President of OISTAT. He will head a new Executive Committee of Leon Brauner (USITT), Wei-Wen Chang (TATT), Henk van der Geest (OISTAT NL), Martin Godfrey (ABTT), Jerome Maeckelbergh (BASTT), Peter McKinnon (CITT), and Simona Rybakova (Czech OISTAT Centre). This diverse group combined with the seven Commission heads will help lead OISTAT into its new home and new presence in the 21st century.
Keynote and Sessions Successful
Tuesday, March 15 began with the keynote address by Jean-Guy Lecat, architect and theatre designer. His work with Peter Brook in the staging of Sir Brook's monumental dramas, which often necessitated the renovation and/or reconstruction of theatres, is probably most well known to North Americans. During his two-hour presentation, Mr. Lecat reminded us of our responsibility to society, art, and each other.
Following the Keynote address was a luncheon for many in attendance and other special guests of OISTAT. The high point of the luncheon was the Executive Committee's farewell to OISTAT's first Madame President, Mrs. Pekkanen, a concerned and knowledgeable president who helped blaze a path through a most difficult period in OISTAT's history to a new and invigorating place, at the end of her period in office.
Later that afternoon, the first meeting of the new Governing Board took place. The primary business was the development of a plan for the secretariat transition and the division of Executive Committee tasks for the coming four-year period.
Wei-Wen Chang will be Vice President and will serve as the liaison between the new Taiwan Secretariat and the EC. Henk van der Geest will be Vice President as well and liaison to the Commissions. Leon Brauner will be responsible for the contact with the OISTAT Centres. Martin Godfrey will continue as the treasurer, Jerome Maeckelbergh will be the liaison to the new individual members, Peter McKinnon is responsible for the structure of OISTAT, Simona Rybakova will function as the liaison to the Prague Quadriënnale and project overview.
Certainly for many USITT members who arrived early, the four program sessions offered during the afternoon were the high point of OISTAT's World Congress. Four sessions which brought together some of the foremost European, Asian, and American designers, technicians and architects were a clear success. Each of the sessions was either at or near the room's seating capacity. Each session generated more questions than could possibly fit into the time allotted. The topics - Stage Rigging, German Theatre Architecture, Women Scenographers, and New Media - generated keen interest among World Congress and USITT/CITT attendees.
The 12th World Congress was, without a doubt, a great success. The Congress has now helped set the direction for the upcoming four year period. The voting delegates and delegations have returned to their respective Centres and have set about instructing their colleagues of the events of the Congress and the direction OISTAT will be taking in the future.
To gain a greater understanding of OISTAT, the State of OISTAT speech, as presented at the business meeting of the World Congress, and other information about OISTAT is available at: www.oistat.org.