Advice on Lighting- Starting from Scratch

Gemma

New Member
I need recommendations for lighting instruments and a console/controller for our small high school theatre productions. I am looking at investing in some decent lights (as inexpensive as possible, but decent quality) that I can add to over the years. This year, my goal is to get a decent controllable wash on the stage(fresnel? PAR? ). At the moment we are working in a refurbished barn that has some natural light until we get our theatre space built (7 years out). Also no grid or truss available, there are crossbeams we could potentially rig to. If there are any lighting techs out there willing to advise, it would be much appreciated. Cheers.
 

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Thanks for responding. No budget. Small private school. We are going to have to fundraiser to buy the equipment. Northern KY. Barn is in a public park.
 
I would advise that once you have a dollar amount you can contact a contractor to put together a package for you. Let them know application and what you’re looking to spend. Realistically it may be a good idea to contact a contractor now to have an idea of cost going in.

Inexpensive as possible and decent quality are usually incompatible terms. It comes down to what are you willing to trade off for what the application is. To give you a rough idea, show quality LED spot fixtures are roughly around 3k each across the board. So, could you buy American DJ or Leprechaun equipment, sure it’s less expensive but is it a trade off you’re willing to live with?

A lot of variables here that a theatrical contractor would be best to work with.
 
Thank you, Chawalang. Could you recommend a theatrical contractor or how to go about finding one?
 
I live in Texas so contractors I’m familiar with would be Texas Scenic or MainStage Theatrical Supply. I’m unfamiliar with who you could work with in Northern Kentucky. Someone here may be able to comment on who to recommend in your area. I would also do an internet search for theatrical lighting dealer or suppliers in your area. I would assume that there will be someone in either Cincinnati or Nashville who could help you. I’m not aware of any companies in Louisville.
 
Permanent construction in a public building for a private company, even a school, is fraught with issues. I'd look into renting, as your long term solution is in process.
 
Permanent construction in a public building for a private company, even a school, is fraught with issues. I'd look into renting, as your long term solution is in process.
What Rick said, plus-

1) You get to pick the gear from vendor inventory, so you could have access to fixtures you wouldn't have been able to purchase for this "temporary" theater, or a different mix of fixtures on a per-show basis.
2) Some of the liability transfers from your school's insurer to the vendor (for the goods and services they supply), and BTW, has the school talked to their insurer about additional risk exposure from use of a municipal structure in a public park?
3) Will the school have full time, exclusive occupancy for the next 7 years? No shared use? If shared, who is in charge of any assets the school may have there?
4) If equipment must be brought in and then removed after a show, you'll have to provide the labor, transportation, storage and maintenance. A rental shop can make those go away.
 
Thanks for your messages, TimMc and RickR. Very helpful.
We will only be renting the barn event space for a week. However, we hope to continueto use it every year until our theatre space is built (7+ years). Yes, our insurance has been contacted. So it sounds like rental might be our best option. I thought perhaps that money could be better spent if we began putting it toward fixtures we could use for years to come. I don't think our school will ever have adequate funds for a professional theatre space, I am trying to get the best we can.
 
Thanks for your messages, TimMc and RickR. Very helpful.
We will only be renting the barn event space for a week. However, we hope to continueto use it every year until our theatre space is built (7+ years). Yes, our insurance has been contacted. So it sounds like rental might be our best option. I thought perhaps that money could be better spent if we began putting it toward fixtures we could use for years to come. I don't think our school will ever have adequate funds for a professional theatre space, I am trying to get the best we can.
Based on the photo I’d have some concern about the suitability of rigging from the roof structure that I might not normally otherwise have due to the condition of it as can be seen in the image. It’s pretty rusty. Also, while good to be thinking ahead, what is appropriate for this space may not be appropriate in whatever new space you move into. The power limitations (which are also important in making a recommendation), throw distance, and general rigging and placement of fixtures can greatly impact what you select. I’d also err on the side of renting for these reasons- a rental house with good service would be happy to do a walkthrough with you to come up with a solution for the space. Bonus if they do installs as maybe you can begin purchasing any gear that might be useful later on in the new venue.
 
Based on the photo I’d have some concern about the suitability of rigging from the roof structure that I might not normally otherwise have due to the condition of it as can be seen in the image. It’s pretty rusty. Also, while good to be thinking ahead, what is appropriate for this space may not be appropriate in whatever new space you move into. The power limitations (which are also important in making a recommendation), throw distance, and general rigging and placement of fixtures can greatly impact what you select. I’d also err on the side of renting for these reasons- a rental house with good service would be happy to do a walkthrough with you to come up with a solution for the space. Bonus if they do installs as maybe you can begin purchasing any gear that might be useful later on in the new venue.
Jglodeklights, great feedback. Thank you!
 
You might talk to Vincent Lighting, in Erlanger.
I lean toward renting, mostly because 7 years is an awfully long time in this industry. Whatever you buy today, something better and cheaper will be available in 7 years.
And if you're only going to use this for a week once a year, 7 years probably won't be long enough for buying to be more cost effective than renting.
Slightly off-topic but worth considering: You may find that it's easier to fund equipment along with a new space than independently of that whole process.
But either way, Vincent can help you. (Disclaimer, I work there.)
 
You might talk to Vincent Lighting, in Erlanger.
I lean toward renting, mostly because 7 years is an awfully long time in this industry. Whatever you buy today, something better and cheaper will be available in 7 years.
And if you're only going to use this for a week once a year, 7 years probably won't be long enough for buying to be more cost effective than renting.
Slightly off-topic but worth considering: You may find that it's easier to fund equipment along with a new space than independently of that whole process.
But either way, Vincent can help you. (Disclaimer, I work there.)
JAC, funny you should mention Vincent because I spoke with Randy yesterday! He was great and offered to come out to the barn and take a look! What a coincidence. So great that Vinvent is right in Erlanger as the barn is in Crittenden. I am super grateful for this blog and all of you guys who have advised me. Thank you!
 

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