HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE FIRST 2005 ISSUE OF SRO, WHICH ALSO happens to be the first issue in which you'll find yours truly at the helm. By way of introduction, I'm the editorial director of Lighting Dimensions and Entertainment Design, two sister publications in the Primedia Business family, both of which you're probably familiar with if you have a background in lighting or theatre.

The last part of that sentence makes me laugh, because I'm learning very quickly that a healthy portion of the rental and staging market has its roots in the theatre. It's where many of you got your start, back in high school or college, and where many of you would have stayed had it allowed you to have any kind of financial life. But the economic realities of theatre being what they are, you and many of your brethren discovered the equally challenging and rewarding, but (occasionally) more lucrative, world of corporate and special events. In the months during our transition onto SRO, I made a point of calling some of the key events companies and industry leaders in order to pick their brains about both the market and the magazine; more than once, in introducing myself and the other magazines, those helpful individuals cut me off and said, “I know the magazines, I was a theatre lighting designer for a number of years,” or “I was an avid reader of Theatre Crafts (the former name of ED) back in my former life as a theatre rat.”

But every niche in the live event market has its own set of challenges, issues, needs and skill sets, so we're planning to craft each issue of SRO to reflect that. You'll notice a few tweaks in this issue; we've added a news section in the front and an expanded product news section in the back. Most significantly, since so many of you are small business owners, we thought it was time to institute a business column. Our inaugural entry comes from the esteemed Tom Stimson of Alford Media Services, who discusses why it's important for rental and staging companies to know their technology threshold.

There's more. We take a look at four of the top technical directors in the staging and rental market, including Jim McLellan from AEG Live, who was named the SRO TD of the Year at the ETS-LDI show in Vegas last year. Our case studies include three very different projects: an FFA meeting, a black-tie awards ceremony, and a most unusual music festival.

Myself, managing editor Mark Newman, and the rest of the SRO staff feel that our backgrounds with ED and LD make us uniquely qualified to bring you the most useful and comprehensive coverage of the rental and staging market. We hope to speak with many of you in the months to come as we help grow this unique niche in live events.