An article about a new stage rigging inspection program in a trade journal I regularly read featured a grant program that funds rigging inspections for schools. It is a great idea and something that every drama teacher and school facility manager should apply for.
I was reminded of a project I took on several years ago, while my children were in high school. The lighting system in the school auditorium was on its last legs and funding for an upgrade was still in the “dream on” stage.
I knew just enough about lighting to think that I could help out, and since my kids were involved in drama, it seemed like a good idea, even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I was able to quickly assess the condition of the lighting system and figure out what needed to be done, but in the process of doing that, I got a real eye opener.
The rigging for the lighting and sound systems, along with the stage curtain rigging was a train wreck. I couldn’t believe what was being used to hang things over high school students heads. Bent “S” hooks, dog chain, rope, wire ties….. It was like taking a trip to the hardware aisle at WalMart.
Not only was almost all of the hardware inadequate for the job, no one had ever removed anything. Where speakers or lighting fixtures had been replaced, the older hardware had been left in place and more inadequate hardware had simply been added on top.
I was able to remove a lot of the old stuff and upgrade the most serious offenders, but even that didn’t bring things up to spec. Unfortunately, there was neither money or time to do the job right.
I am happy to report that a year or so later, the school auditorium got a major upgrade including new sound and lighting systems. The best part of the upgrade, while invisible to students, faculty and staff was that the work was done by certified technicians using the proper hardware and installation techniques.
If your school is lucky enough to qualify for one of the USITT Rigging Inspection Program grants, you may be shocked at what they find.
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