Steps to take for contracted work

Mark Warner

I'm the Technical Director at an SPT that has a youth program that tours throughout the state and helps local schools without theatre programs. One of these schools recently approached me about about consulting with them on getting new lights and sound for their theatre (gymatorium). I recommended a few companies that could do the job for them but since its in a gym in a small town elementary school its work that I could easily do for them, and most likely save them some money.

I wouldn't be doing any of the electrical work, or building anything, I would just come in buy them lights and sound equipment, and do a very simple install of those lights and sound. Their curtains also need maintenance, so I would send them off to be cleaned, and fire proofed.

I've done this kind of work in theatres where employed, or local churches that need help, but since this is a school getting grant money for this work I want to cover my bases.

What licenses should I be looking into getting? Do I need to bond/insure the work? If I just buy the equipment for their needs and someone else installs it do I need to get anything? Anything not listed that I need to think about?

I would love to help this school out, and save them some money. Any insight would be much appreciated.

Tom Andrews

Active Member
I'm surprised no one has written back yet. I'm sure lots of others have been in your shoes and have suggestions.

You shouldn't need to bond or insure 'the work'. I'd suggest you arrange to have the school purchase the equipment from the suppliers you recommend. That takes you out of the equipment liability chain. You should have your own worker's comp insurance (if you get hurt on the job, the school isn't responsible) and simple General Liability insurance (if you break or damage anything of theirs, you're covered for the repair or replace cost).

That's a rough guideline, and each situation is different, and the school might require other things. Generally, you want to keep it as simple as possible.


Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
A couple of things to consider, since it's a school they probably have to go through a bid process for purchases. Also suggest that in addition to checking out the cost to clean and re-fireproof the curtains also check the cost to replace with IFR curtains.


Well-Known Member
Getting paid to provide a bit of advise rather than sweat-of-the-brow is a nice deal with hidden pitfalls and failures that last for decades.

Starting a consulting company to deal with liability, taxes, licenses and such has nothing to do with skills as a technician or designer and introduces a slate of issues, many that will get wrapped up in local laws and reg's. That's a very different situation. If just advising, then the school should understand that suing you into bankruptcy will probably not pay for the lawyers and that they will wind up bearing all the liability for problems.

If you are not contracting for construction (general, electrical, mechanical) then you don't need that license or bond. If you are not a licensed architect or engineer then you can't stamp drawings for construction. Whether they need to be stamped is a client and AHJ issue. (If you don't know what AHJ means then you probably aren't ready to do this work.) Business issues aside, there isn't a theatrical consultants' license just as there isn't a salesman license. There is no certification or requirement that you know anything or can do any specific task. Experience is the only thing to point to and too little is often accepted just because it's more than the client has.

A word to the wise, if you dig around here you will find many discussions of design failures by folks that should know better or at least know when to call in an expert.

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