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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Sound Commission Reviews Gender Issues, VC Assignments

Dave Tosti-Lane
Vice Commissioner for Communications, Sound Commission

Members of the Sound Commission believe increased participation of women in all areas of sound, design, technology, and composition is crucial to the future of the art. There have been numerous successes to date, but we have not observed a sustained rise in the number of women who choose to follow pursuits in sound for live performance. Tthere is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that a significant number of those women who do pursue the field wind up abandoning it early.

Members are concerned that, particularly in some of the more traditionally male-dominated technical areas of the field, obstacles to entry by women exist. Too often in the past, the discussion about the situation seems also to have been dominated by men. For these reasons, the Commission has established a new project, Gender and The Sound Arts. The project is being coordinated by Eileen Smitheimer, Vice-Commissioner for Human Issues, and B.C. Keller of South Coast Repertory Theater.

During the USITT 2006 Conference in Louisville, the Sound Commission will dedicate one of its program days to the project, with presentations by women working in the field and a panel discussion about their experiences. We are particularly interested in hearing from women currently or formerly working in sound for the performing arts, or studying to enter the field. Mr. Keller and Ms. Smitheimer are building a resource list for the 2006 convention sessions and are collecting anecdotal information for the project. Contact Mr. Keller at to participate, to pass on contact information, or to relate your experiences.

Additions and Reassignments for Vice Commissioners

Sound Commissioner David E. Smith recently announced changes in the Vice-Commissioner assignments. Michael Hooker, formerly Vice-Commissioner for Programming, was named Co-Commissioner of the Sound Commission. Drew Dalzell, formerly VC for the Computing Industry, was named VC for Programming. Jason Romney, of the North Carolina School of the Arts, was named VC for Computer Technology. Chuck Hatcher, of the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, was named VC for Sound Commission Conference Events for the 2006 Louisville conference.

Sound Odds and Ends

The Commissioners welcome suggestions regarding candidates for the Harold Burris-Meyer Distinguished Career in Sound Design award. Candidates should have well established careers and have made significant contributions to the industry, though they need not be USITT members. Past recipients of this award, first offered in 1999, include: Abe Jacob, Charlie Richmond, Dr. John Bracewell, Tony Meola, Dan Dugan, and Jonathan Deans. Contact Mr. Smith at with suggestions regarding eligible candidates. In order to be considered, suggestions must arrive no later than July 15.

By the time you read this, the new Sound Commission web pages should be active and available by link from the Commissions page at the site.

Following the highly successful 2005 conference in Toronto, the Sound Commission is looking forward to an exciting program at the 2006 conference. We hope you will join us in Louisville in March 2006!

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The Sound Commission's highly regarded programming in Toronto included sessions with internaional designers including Ross Brown and Gregg Fisher.
Photo/Casey Kearns