Ten High Schools to get USITT Rigging Safety Grants

usitt_logo_red_72.jpgEveryone loves high school 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 high schools around the country.

The program has funded backstage inspections at 30 high schools in 18 states since 2011.USITT has just announced 10 more high schools will receive the latest round of assistance.

They are: Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, New Jersey; Charlottesville High School in Charlottesville, Virginia; Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana; Suitland High School in Forestville, Maryland; Lancaster Mennonite School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Calhoun High School in Merrick, New York; Bigfork School in Bigfork, Minnesota; Andover Central High School in Andover, Kansas, and Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School in Spring Hill, Florida.

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 Rigging Safety 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.

The Rigging Safety Initiative has recent support from Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) in Middleton, Wisconsin, and Shepard Exhibition Services in Atlanta, Georgia. The program was launched in 2011 with a $25,000 donation from JR Clancy Inc. in Syracuse, New York.

Schools whose applications are approved get an inspection by a rigging contractor in their area – who supplies a written report – along with training in basic rigging operation, safety and maintenance. If the inspection reveals damaged or faulty rigging, it would be up to the school to fix the problem, said USITT board member Dan Culhane, himself a 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 grants 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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