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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

In 2005, USITT hosted an OISTAT World Congress which drew participants from Europe, Asia, North and South America, to enjoy collaboration and discuss issues of importance to the entire theatre and performing arts community. Everyone returned home with memories and numerous digital reminders.

Photo/Richard Finkelstein


Every Member Part of a
World Theatre Community

Leon I. Brauner
Head of US OISTAT Centre - USITT

Quite a few years ago I joined USITT. Actually, as I saw it, I joined a group of costumers and costume designers who had similar interests.

Within a few years we had formed the Institute's Costume Design & Technology Commission. In short order, we had costume programming, costume symposia, a directory of costume-related supplies and suppliers, and, perhaps most important, a growing relationship with the members of the other Commissions. Health & Safety Commission members were busy helping us determine how safe (or unsafe) our work places and materials were, and a group of Education, Technology, Scene Design, and Lighting Design Commission members were collaborating on a set of educational theatre promotion and tenure guidelines. Not only was the Costume Design & Technology Commission serving the specific interests and needs of its own constituents, it was collaborating with others in the Institute to share, develop, and strengthen all members and their areas of interest - and they were doing likewise for the Costume Design & Technology Commission. That is the beauty of professional associations. We are USITT, and USITT is us.

USITT provides its members with vital communication forums, an active and ever-growing network composed of theatre design and production persons, theatre architects and consultants, and manufacturers and sales persons of theatre-related goods. This rich and varied group of theatre people come together to teach and be taught, to develop better or more efficient approaches, to solve old and new problems, and to support and enable each other.

We are primarily a national organization, but we also have some understanding of our role in world theatre. USITT's members mostly are individuals from North America though there are members from regions beyond our borders. In this first decade of the twenty-first century, it is more important than it has ever been to be members of a world constituency of theatre artists, technicians, and architects. To be insular in our thinking and artistic views of world theatre and art is to suffer a kind of aesthetic malnutrition. Sharing our ideas, beliefs, values, and ourselves with colleagues from afar strengthens our own artistic bearing and that of our colleagues. Internationalism of this kind leads to win-win situations.

There are all kinds of ways to become more involved in international theatre. Attend international sessions and/or take time to network with international guests at the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Work with a Commission's OISTAT Liaison and programming person to target potential international guest speakers and workshop presenters. These people can be invited to participate in a conference, workshop, symposia, or section meeting.

In addition, any member can participate in OISTAT Commission meetings. Each of the six OISTAT Commissions (Scenography [which includes Costume, Lighting, and Sound Working Groups], Technology, History and Theory, Architecture, Education, and Publication and Communications) hold a yearly meeting at the invitation of an OISTAT Centre somewhere in the world.

The meetings include some business but are mainly on topics of interest to the specialist constituents and often include an exhibit of work by the meeting members. USITT sends an official Commission delegate to each of these OISTAT Commission meetings, but unofficial delegates are also invited to participate. Since it is the responsibility of the official USITT Commission delegate to communicate the contents of the meeting to the USITT membership, usually by way of an article in Sightlines, the Institute financially supports the official delegate. If you want to be an unofficial delegate you will need to support yourself or seek support from your institution. Official delegates are often chosen from USITT members who have regularly participated in International meetings as unofficial delegates. Attending such meetings is a great way to make new friends, develop relationships with producing groups, identify colleagues you would like to invite to your own institution, and network.

There are two upcoming OISTAT Commission meetings. The Technology Commission meeting will take place in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic Of China on November 16 to 20. The official invitation is available from the USITT office. The Education Commission will meet at Nottingham and London, England November 30 to December 4. The official invitation is available from the USITT office.

While USITT provides us with a vital national forum, it also provides us with an expansive window on the world through its sister organization OISTAT. Because USITT is a member of OISTAT, so are all USITT members. Make better use of this relationship. It is a valuable tool; use it to make life and work richer.

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