HUDSONVILLE, MI - In any given theatrical production, thousands of pounds of equipment hangs above the performers. Lights, curtains, and sets all suspended from the ceiling of the room. Theatres and Auditoriums are designed with special rigging systems which facilitate the use of all of these items in a show. However, over time these systems wear. As with any mechanical system, inspection and preventative maintenance are the keys to safety.
In 2011, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) entered into partnership with several entertainment rigging manufacturers to launch the Rigging Safety Initiative (RSI). Since its inception in 2011, the RSI has awarded over 100 schools across 25 states a free inspection of their stage rigging systems. Once a school's application is approved, they choose from a list of participating ETCP certified rigging inspectors in their area. USITT pays the inspector directly for the inspection and four to six hours of safety training for faculty and student stage crew. The only cost to schools may be the inspector's travel and housing -- if necessary -- and any special equipment such as a lift to access the system.
USITT has a national network of inspectors, so many schools find their cost is ZERO. The school gets a detailed status report on their rigging -- what's working properly and what potential safety problems can be prevented with routine care. Free safety training for up to eight staff & students helps ensure safe operation of a complex system.
Hudsonville High School was one of twelve schools nationwide to receive grant funding this cycle. A full rigging inspection of Eagle Auditorium, on the HHS Main Campus, will take place over the Summer of 2017. HHS Stage Crew students, and drama faculty will be invited to the training seminar. Auditorium Director Rob Matthews indicates that while everything seems in order on the Main Campus stage, it has been over fifteen years since its last renovation. "This inspection will let us know what preventative maintenance measures we need to take, and how to continue to keep this stage a safe place for our students to work and learn."
For more information on the Rigging Safety Initiative, please visit USITT online: www.usitt.org/rsi