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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Commission Questions Answered!

Kim Williamson
VP Commissions

Last month, as a New Year's resolution, I introduced the notion of dispelling the myths and confusions about Commissions by answering member questions about how they function. Over the next few months, this column will continue to look at what the commissions are and what they might become as we reimagine how the commissions serve the membership as USITT moves closer to its 50th Birthday.

Why are they called Commissions? The word Commission was identified in the formative years of USITT to describe the shared interests within distinct areas of design and technology. Merriam Webster's definition seems particularly appropriate: "a group of persons directed to perform some duty; an authorization or command to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts as in a charge." The word seems perfectly appropriate and descriptive when considering the function of the Commissions "to conduct and encourage communication of and about shared interests of the membership by providing forums for professional growth through conference programming, by developing research projects and by collecting and disseminating information." It is also important to mention that the Commissions function primarily at the national level, whereas each Section or chapter may describe their distinct interest areas in a different manner.

Can I be a member of more than one Commission? Yes! Simply stated, membership in a Commission is determined by participation in a Commission's activities. Certainly the hub of activity of each Commission is focused to the annual USITT Conference & Stage Expo where each Commission holds its business meetings (everyone is invited to attend!); sponsors sessions, workshops, and exhibits; and features special guests and award recipients. At the initial stage, attend one or more Commission sponsored sessions pertinent to your areas of interest. The matter of scheduling 10 active and vibrant Commission activities during the conference means members will need to make choices; however, over the course of four days of programming, there is extensive opportunity to attend a variety of Commission offerings. Apart from the conference, an extensive variety of projects within Commissions are ongoing and rely on the membership for the success of these projects. Follow the Commissions link to learn more about each Commission as well as who to contact for more information on its activities.

I am interested in props -- which Commission should I join? The area of Properties and Crafts is housed in the Scene Design Commission. Vice-Commissioner John Lavarnway,, takes the lead to assure that annual conference programming includes sessions that focus on properties and crafts. This is one of the most rapidly growing areas of interest within the Commissions and the Institute overall. Is the Scene Design Commission the ideal home for Properties and Crafts? Or is it time to re-visit the notion of the growth of Properties and Crafts warranting a separate Commission? I welcome ideas and lively conversation on this topic as we move ahead to re-imagine how the Commissions serve the membership.

Thanks for the questions! I look forward to more of your queries and curiosities that help define the role of Commissions and how they best serve the membership of USITT.

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