WHY Does Behind The Scenes STILL Have Holiday Cards?!

So, for those of you who don’t know, there is a pretty cool organization called BTS, or Behind the Scenes.  They’re always at the tradeshows, and the people in their booth are great folk.  BTS is an initiative of the ESTA Foundation, aiming to help out industry folks when they’re down and out.  BTS does a good thing, and has helped some very, very talented people get back on their feet after falling from the sky because of illness or injury.

UPDATE:  Something TOTALLY crazy, I realized today that I know a BTS recipient!!!  “Heavy Metal Mary,” as she is called, is a friend of a friend.

Right now, BTS is trying to get all of their Holiday cards ordered up – and the deadline is SEPTEMBER 8!  They have four awesome designs, all done by people working in the biz to benefit the biz.  All of the proceeds from this Holiday card sale go to benefit Behind the Scenes recipients.  I don’t know of a better way to help than this without having eleventy trillion dollars to donate, which I don’t have.

From BTS about the cards:

The 2011 Behind the Scenes Holiday Cards were created by an impressive lineup of all-star designers—Andrew Hefter, Seth Jackson, Derek McLane, and Jim Youmans—and proceeds go to Behind the Scenes, a charity helping entertainment technology professionals who are injured or ill.

Seth Jackson has designed tours for two decades for Don Henley, Jason Mraz, Hilary Duff, Melissa Etheridge, American Idols Live, Barry Manilow, Carrie Underwood, and Toby Keith, to name a few. He’s also a two-time Parnelli Award winner, and has received the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Award of Distinction.

Derek McLane is one of today’s most sought after designers, with designs seen on Broadway in this year’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Anything Goes revivals on Broadway. His design for 33 Variations won him a Tony Award, and his Ragtime and Pajama Game revivals each earned Tony nominations.

Jim Youmans has designed award-winning scenery for Broadway and other live events, as well as for television and media environments. Some of his many designs have includedGypsy (Patti LuPone) and Swinging on a Staron Broadway, as well as Matt and Ben, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jeffrey, and The Swan (Public Theatre) Off-Broadway, among others.

A perennial favorite, talented young photographer Andrew Hefter returns with an encore performance of his popular design from 2008 in response to requests from those who missed out on this sold-out card the first time around.

Three ordering options are offered, including personalized cards with a company logo and custom message (minimum 250 cards), card packs of 10 with a standard greeting, and electronic versions to be sent via email as a jpg, gif or pdf.

Orders will be taken until September 8, 2011 to arrive by early November. All proceeds benefit The ESTA Foundation’s Behind the Scenes program. View and order cards at the link below. For more information, please contact Kacey Coffin at +1-212-244-1421 or

Check out the card designs – very cool:


…and perhaps my favorite…

Jump on it, everybody.  Help our industry help ourselves.


Have opinions about industry standards? Voice them!

PLASA StandardsNo, seriously! Every time that any standard is submitted to ANSI for approval or revision, it is first put into public review. That’s right, I said public. PLASA (formerly ESTA) is who puts forth our entertainment standards. At this very moment, there are 11 Entertainment Technology standards up for public review.

  • BSR E1.21 – 201x, Entertainment Technology — Temporary Ground-Supported Structures Used to Cover the Stage Areas and Support Equipment in the Production of Outdoor Entertainment Events
  • BSR E1.6-2 – 201x, Entertainment Technology — Design, Inspection, and Maintenance of Electric Chain Hoists for the Entertainment Industry
  • BSR E1.39 – 201x, Entertainment Technology –Selection and Use of Personal Fall Arrest Systems on Portable Structures Used in the Entertainment Industry
  • BSR E1.1 – 201x, Entertainment Technology – Construction and Use of Wire Rope Ladders
  • BSR E1.6-3 – 201x, Selection and Use of Chain Hoists in the Entertainment Industry
  • BSR E1.41 – 201x, Recommendations for Measuring and Reporting Photometric Performance Data for Entertainment Luminaires Utilizing Solid State Light Sources
  • BSR E1.18-1 – 201x, Standard for the selection, installation, and use of single-conductor portable power feeder cable systems for use at 600 volts nominal or less for the distribution of electrical energy in the entertainment and live-event industries
  • BSR E1.24 – 201x, Entertainment Technology – Dimensional Requirements for Stage Pin Connectors
  • BSR E1.32 – 201x, Guide for the Inspection of Entertainment Industry Incandescent Lamp Luminaires
  • BSR E1.33-201x, Entertainment Technology – Extensions to E1.31 for Transport of ANSI E1.20
  • ANSI E1.26 – 2006, Entertainment Technology – Recommended testing methods and values for shock absorption of floors used in live performance venues

All of the preceding, except for ANSI E1.26 – 2006, is in public review until October 18, 2011. ANSI E1.26 – 2006 is in public review until August 30, 2011.

From PLASA about the documents, review and voting process:

The draft documents are produced by members of the working groups in the Technical Standards Program. Membership in the working groups is open to all who are affected by the work of the group; membership in PLASA or any other association is not a requirement. Voting members are required to attend meetings, but observer members are not, although they are welcome to attend and to speak on issues if they choose. More information about working groups and an application to join are available under the working groups link.

I’m not certain how untimely the first item on the list, BSR E1.21 – 201x, looks with all of the staging incidents that have occurred this summer, but certainly now is the time for those involved, and even those not directly, to make a stronger standard. Just remember, they aren’t looking for rants – as valid as they may be.

got fox?

In Case You Hadn’t Heard, ESTA and PLASA are Proposing A Merger

This is pretty huge news, everybody – if you’ve not heard about this yet, it’s time to hear about it now.

Two major organizations in the entertainment industry, the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA) and the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA) are voting on a merger.  “Wait a second,” you might ask yourself – “what good would that do?”  Well, that’s what being a professional in the industry is all about – working on making our industry better one step at a time.  That also means making decisions about what happens in our industry, and now is the time for action.  If you’re a member of ESTA or PLASA, you’ll be getting a ballot soon – send it in!  On May 31, voting closes on the merger, and we’ll hear about the results in early June.

What are your thoughts on the merger of PLASA and ESTA?  Please comment below and share your views!

If you want to see the packet that was mailed around to members, the link is here (PDF link), and the ESTA website has additional information on the merger.  Below is a letter than was sent out a month or so ago regarding the merger:

Dear Members,

It has sometimes been said that many people spend more time ‘planning the wedding’ than they do ‘planning the marriage.’  We will tell you (with great conviction) that this is certainly not the case when it comes to the proposed merger between ESTA and PLASA. Ever since last fall when we announced that the ESTA Board of Directors and the PLASA Executive Committee had agreed in principle to merge our two associations, countless hours have been spent by the ESTA and PLASA teams, your elected representatives and numerous volunteers to provide you with specific information on several topics to prepare you to cast your vote in May, 2010.

The best business plans are straightforward documents that spell out the “who, what, where, why and how much” and that is precisely what we have tried to do for you. This package includes the following:
  • An Executive Summary that clearly identifies the key issues and provides a high level view of the rationale for this merger and how the merged association will operate. Most importantly, it provides you with information about how this merger will impact you as a member of ESTA;
  • Documents have been provided that offer specific details regarding the following:
    – Membership Structure
    – Governance Structure
    – Dues Structure
    – Code of Conduct
    – Technical Standards Program
It is very important to point out the following:
  • The current ESTA staff fully supports this merger and all of them will continue to provide you with member benefits and services;
  • The member benefits and services are in no way reduced by this merger. In point of fact, new benefits and services are planned and others will be enhanced;
  • ETCP will continue as a major program dedicated to fostering safety in the industry and will operate along a separate but parallel path to PLASA’s program to accommodate both legal and regional differences in certification standards;
  • The existing committee structure will continue and will enable PLASA in North America to continue to make good use of the valuable volunteer efforts that have long been the core of our association;
  • Protocol will continue to be offered as a quarterly journal and will become a part of the PLASA Publishing team;
  • The ESTA Foundation will continue to operate as a separate 501(c)3 educational and charitable foundation under its existing name. The merged association will continue to provide support for the Foundation and its programs including Behind the Scenes.
As we said, a tremendous amount of work has been done already (and will continue through the voting process). This merger has our complete support and also enjoys the unconditional support of the ESTA Board of Directors, the Technical Standards Committee, the ETCP Council, the ‘Has Been Society’ (ESTA’s Past Presidents), the ESTA Staff and program participants too numerous to mention.

Even with all of this support, the vote to approve this merger does face the challenge that a majority of all voting classifications (Dealer and Rental Company/Manufacturer and Distributor/PSO) must vote AND a majority of those voting must vote in favor of the plan. Andrew Carnegie once said that “you can’t push anyone up the ladder unless he is ready to climb himself.”

What can you expect in the next several weeks?
  • This package of information is being sent to you both electronically and by snail mail;
  • Your comments and questions are welcome between now and April 6th;
  • For those of you attending USITT there will be a special meeting on Wednesday, March 31st from 9-10:30am at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown in room Moten AB dedicated to a discussion of these materials;
  • In mid-April, you will receive a copy of the revised by-laws that would specifically govern PLASA in North America;
• By May 1st, you will receive your ballot regarding the proposed merger and by-law changes;
• Voting will end May 31st;
• The results of the vote will be announced in early June.

William Shakespeare said that “we know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

We have made substantial efforts to provide you with the information and tools that you need. We urge you to make comments and to ask questions if there is anything that you do not understand. Your active and enthusiastic participation in this process is urgently needed to shape the future of our association.

Bill Groener
Lori Rubinstein