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Managing a Shared Facility

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by AshleyB, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. AshleyB

    AshleyB Member

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    Location:
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    Time to put on your wishing hats. Our city is considering building a shared used facility for "Arts Presentations" and have asked for input on what would help this type of space be successful. The ideas is that 2 High Schools, 8 Middle Schools, the elementary schools, plus any other community groups would be able to share the space for public performances.

    Setting aside the scheduling nightmare, what is your MoSCoW list for such a facility? As a refresher, a MoSCoW list means breaking down your requirements into levels:

    1. Must have these things...
    2. Should Have
    3. Could Have
    4. Wish it could have

    Example:
    1. Must have :
    -a full time TD
    -loading dock
    -FOH to Booth to Backstage communication system
    2. Should have a full time House/programming manager
    3. Could have - High end wireless headset communication system
    4. Wish it could have all LED/moving fixtures
     
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  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Location:
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    @AshleyB A few quick thoughts in random order: UPS back-up on your production intercom system so you can communicate in case of power loss, black-outs. A "God Mic" system so you can give calming instructions to patrons and performers during situations involving power loss / fire / bomb threats. Of course it'd be nice to have generator back-up for all of your electrical needs but being able to calmly instruct patrons and performers during power loss situations is important. In my area of Canada, battery-powered emergency lights and exit signs are only mandated to remain lit for 30 minutes by which time many are down to a cherry red glow. I'm suggesting an SM's God mic system covering the patrons, stage and backstage areas is a good thing to have fully powered long enough and loud enough to calmly issue instructions pertinent to the situation.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
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  3. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Ron, you're retired ?. You still amaze me with these kinds of really useful suggestions. UPS the com's. Really good advice.
     
  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    Everyone pays, nobody gets a free lunch.

    Even if the school is allocated x number of days per year in the room as part of their usage agreement, a budget needs to be tracked on consumables, labor, clean-up, and so forth fees. It's the only way to keep things in check and avoid groups asking for more than they actually need and then the venue carries the burden of those costs.

    If the venue is operated by the school district, it should be treated as a separate facility within the district and given the authority to handle scheduling, budgets, and staffing. If you have a principal overriding the PAC manager and just scheduling things whenever they want or putting shows on stage for 6 weeks of rehearsals, that will murder any chance of the venue operating as a revenue neutral entity. Someone needs to be at the helm giving fair representation to all of the stakeholder groups while also keeping the interests of the venue accounted for. This person is also responsible for outside bookings, contract negotiation, and so forth.

    They should be given a revolving budget that allows long-term maintenance and upgrade costs to be saved up for, instead of the typical "use it or lose it" budget cycles that schools typically do. This helps build up savings to cover the larger once-per-10-year costs like a new projector, new lighting console, buying a dance floor, replacing wireless mic systems, etc.
     
  5. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @SteveB and @AshleyB The power requirements to keep your production intercom / headset system operational for 30 minutes would be minimal and possibly within the ability of a UPS you may already have in your booth to sustain your lighting control board through brief power outages. Powering a decent SM's God mic loud enough to be clearly audible for all patrons, performers, back stage areas and lobby washrooms is another, and much more power consuming, kettle of fish. Possibly a battery powered bull horn could suffice if your SM resides in an FOH booth with a suitable window.
    Ashley and Steve B. Nah! I doubt you're related.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  6. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    And inspecting / maintaining fly systems and rigging.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
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  7. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    @OP

    - Whose manning a box office ?. How does the presenter know how many audience is arriving and who's managing that ?.

    - House Manager ?, who supervises ushers ?, trains ?, deals with fire alarms and other emergencies ?.

    - Scheduling ?.

    - Backstage management ?.

    - Facility operation ?. Cleaning ?, Security ?, etc...

    - Budget for everything, lamps, equipment damage and repair, gaff tape, etc..... ?
     
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  8. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
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    You must have a facility whose design is supportive of the performer audience relationship. Number one is it's quiet - no outside noise and no mechanical noise. You need a floor that doesn't impede or injure performers. The room needs to be safe. You need heigth, structural strength, and slot of electrical service - though much less than 20 or so years ago. Getting everybody on board with these essentials - and I'm sure I missed a few - and make sure they are not lost sight of.

    The rest is easy.
     
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  9. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    aud man out
    Location:
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    I have such a space that serves both community and school district needs. The one big thing is it needs to have its own administration and to be able to operate independently. We are the link connection between the high school and middle school. We also support elementary programs for 4 schools. Plus host the local arts council productions.
    It is called an auditorium but it really is more of a performing arts center as it has a band room, dance studio, green room, scene shop..
    The facility is turntable divisible with two “Pods” as we call them. 124 seat turntables, one is normally a lecture hall style on its back side, the other has a small platform stage. We get a lot of users into these, and it is one of the great flexible aspects of the place. The 500 seat main house can go to 750 seats in 5 minutes. Both were used as classroom space during the day The main stage was then free to host an outside group such as an elementary program or touring artist, without disturbing normal school activity. Having storage for the shell and a freight elevator to a full trap room are a huge help.

    One big thing is that we have our own lobby and restrooms. And can secure both from the connected schools.
    We do share the parking lot so when scheduling we have to consider other events at the high school ,such as games ot tournaments .
    The connection is a big plus as it gives us access to the cafeteria and kitchen. So it is easy to host multi need events .

    Having the ability to host three different events on the same evening makes for a very flexible schedule.
     
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  10. JAC

    JAC Member

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    Location:
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    With that many groups using the space, no one group will be able to move in for six or eight weeks and rehearse and build scenery, as many schools are accustomed to operating. You'll need support spaces like a rehearsal hall and scene shop. And put a Theatre Consultant on your "must have" list.
     
  11. Lynnchesque

    Lynnchesque Member

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    Occupation:
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    I second the scene shop requirement, or at least some kind of aux space so that school X can paint their hastily made flats somewhere other than your nice pristine black stage.

    The #1 thing I wish for at too many venues is simply a nice, triple-wide, stage-level door to load in to. A loading dock is well and good; but I can dump a semi-truck in the parking lot and still load in easily as long as there is a clear path and smooth ramps- that doesn't rely on a freight elevator (that will definitely break on your one day load--in/tech, and require a city worker to come in on holiday overtime to fix... ugh.)

    Second would just generally be a venue that was designed with flexibility in mind. Additional power. Lots. House management that understands that theatrical lighting is meant to be moved around and changed. Even if you have the funds to build a massive auditorium, at some point you'll want to cut the house down to the size of a tiny blackbox.

    A flyline system is what separates a stage from a theater (in my opinion). And I would point out, not every school can have a stagecraft class, but anyone can rent a backdrop.
     
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  12. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    You're building a theatre.

    Hire Bill. Or Mike. Or Erich. (I know I mispelled that...) :)
     
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  13. eadler

    eadler Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Director of Engineering (Broadcast)
    Location:
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    As a broadcast guy, I always think about power, connectivity, and where to put mics and/or cameras. You're building a multi-use space, it won't be too long before someone wants to use it to produce TV-style content with multiple cameras or for mixing and recording audio. If you can have that figured out at the start of the theatre design it will make everyone's lives easier later. Also, cable trays with pull lines for whatever the next technology is because while today is all Cat6, high frequency tested RG6, and LC fiber, tomorrow might not be.
     
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  14. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Performing Arts Center Manager
    Location:
    Macomb, MI
    I have managed a shared facility for 15 years now. It can be a real nightmare at times. Yes, scheduling is the biggest obstacle. I would say some heavy thought and commitment needs to be had as to exactly how the facility will operate before you move forward with a design. Concerns such as how much time each group will get in the facility for each production, will sets be built on site, how much turn around time between productions will be had. What will an annual budget look like? What happens to ticket revenue? Who employs staff? How much staff will you have? What will students be able to do, and what will adult staff be required to do?

    As previously mentioned, plenty of power, intelligently thought out load in and shop space, more storage than you think you will need! I have found a flexible rep plot for lighting has been the only way I get through some months. There is just not enough time in between nor enough staff to facilitate a complete light hang between productions. Things like I-cues or moving lights FOH for specials, and LED wash fixtures really would help to adjust to event needs on the fly. And, yes I would argue these features would be MUST haves.

    Administration needs to understand the heavy technology and equipment budget that proper operation of a facility like this will require. There is never adequate funding to "buy thing later", despite what they might indicate. A long term funding mechanism for the staffing, operation, and facility / technology refreshes along the way needs to be committed to for the venue / partnership to have any sort of possible success.

    Best of luck to you! This can be a very exciting time, and a very stressful process.

    ~Dave
     
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  15. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    We also have a rep plot and renters are told that light hang work is extra; we tear the plot down 2, maybe 3 times a year.
     
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