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Calhoun High School Stage to Get Rigging Safety Aid

Everyone loves student musicals, but who worries about their safety? The United States Institute for Theatre Technology does.
USITT, the national association for backstage professionals, is making student stages safer through its Rigging Safety Initiative, which provides free rigging inspections and safety training at secondary school theatres around the country.
Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick is among 10 schools whose auditoriums will receive inspections and training, worth up to $1,000 per school. Drama teacher Sal Salerno submitted the school for consideration.
Besides Calhoun High School, schools in nine other states from Florida to Minnesota were chosen for the 2013 Rigging Safety Initiative. The program has funded backstage inspections and training at 30 high school stages in 18 states in the past two years.
USITT, the professional association for the performing arts/entertainment design and technology industry, launched the Rigging Safety Initiative in 2011 with a $25,000 donation from J.R. Clancy Inc. rigging in Syracuse. Two new sponsors, Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) in Middleton, Wisconsin, and Shepard Exhibition Services in Atlanta, Georgia, signed on to help fund the program this year.
High schools concerned about their stage rigging – the ropes, pulleys and other equipment used to hang and move curtains, scenery and lights – can apply to USITT for assistance to fund a professional inspection and a four-hour safety course for up to eight faculty and students.
“Think about the number of students who cross these high school stages each school year, and realize we are affecting the safety of thousands,” USITT Executive Director David Grindle said of the program.
Schools whose applications are approved may choose from a list of rigging contractors in their area to supply an inspection and written report, along with training in basic rigging operation, safety and maintenance. The bills for those services are submitted to USITT for payment. All contractors participating in the program must be certified by the Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP), the industry certification provider for stage riggers and electricians.
If an inspection reveals damaged or faulty rigging, it would be up to the school to fix the problem, said USITT board member Dan Culhane of Minnesota-based SECOA Theatre Equipment, himself a certified rigging inspector. But, Culhane noted, the cost of a serious injury caused by neglected rigging would be far higher than replacing frayed ropes or faulty brakes.
USITT’s Rigging Safety Initiative strives to provide rigging safety inspections to 10 schools twice a year, in spring and fall. The deadline to apply for spring 2013 is April 1. For more information or to apply, visit www.usitt.org or go directly to http://www.usitt.org/content.asp?pl=32&sl=330&contentid=330.

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