I just had a chance to read my copy of the December issue of Entertainment Design and your interview with Gary Fails [Centerline Q&A, page 7]. I congratulate Gary on his graduation, as I know how difficult it is to go to graduate school and work full-time while growing a business. I do want to mention, however, that he is not the only one with more than a few years in the lighting industry who has an MBA.

I received an MBA from Pepperdine in 1992 while working in product development and marketing for a lighting manufacturer. I began my professional career in lighting in 1976 as a scenic and lighting designer after completing my BFA in Drama.

Although I agree that this industry has a history of low profitability, I didn't fully understand where he was going with the rest of that statement.

Maybe because I was an older student, my MBA was such a significant learning experience. I only wish that more students would consider business school versus MFA programs. Designers are so overeducated in the art of focusing a leko and undereducated in the skills required to make a better living. “Back in the old days,” we didn't face the global competition for work like today and even the work itself has taken on such vastly different proportions. The internet has also changed the game, and the speed at which business moves today requires attention to economic, financial, and strategic principals.

The fact that I view my relationships with my employees, clients, and vendors so vastly differently than so many of my competitors is completely a result of the skills and knowledge I acquired in business school. While I realize b-school isn't for everyone, it should be for anyone who wants to run their own business.

Again, my congratulations to Gary.
Dawn Hollingsworth

Gary Fails responds:

Thank you for your comments. My MBA experience was an immense challenge, but I think I gained more from it than most of my classmates since I have a “laboratory” to apply the concepts!

I'd like to clarify my comment about low industry profitability. My quote actually was, “Other industries have other degrees of profitability” (rather than “Other businesses have other degrees of profitability”). This economic concept is influenced by several factors including the stage of the industry life cycle, competition, the threat of vertical and horizontal integration, and barriers to entry.

One simple bit of evidence of the low profitability of our industry is the low number of MBAs, implying a low-wage industry. In many industries, a prerequisite for entry to middle management is an MBA. In ours, it's not — the vast majority of businesses simply can't afford to hire one. Since profit is the “well” from which all good things in a business come, an industry with relatively lower profitability would have relatively lower wages, benefits, product innovation, and a relatively lower ability to attract capital for growth.

I love this industry, and I'm fortunate to be able to make a living in an interesting, challenging, and creative end of it. An MBA isn't a mysterious “secret key to success,” but it has helped me. To paraphrase Will Durant, “Thirty years ago I knew everything, today I know nothing. Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
Gary Fails

On behalf of all music photographers, especially us old-timers, I wanted to say what a good editorial you did [see ED February 2003]. From when I started in the 1960s until the glam era (Duran), photographing acts was a trade-off partnership: They let us shoot, we tried to portray them in the best possible light. With Duran, etc., approval and three songs came in. I think the first act that wanted ownership even when they had not hired you was Kiss. Peter Gabriel did provide you with good material from Armando Gallo who I've known since the 70s in London; he's been close to the Genesis circle forever and he is a good shooter, so at least Peter is doing that right.
Chris Walter
Photofeatures Int

Dear lighting colleagues,

My name is Sister Victoria MacNeil, a nun living in a religious community on Cape Cod, MA. I am a lighting designer “in training” for Gloriae Dei Artes Foundation (www.gdaf.org) whose entire thrust is the “pursuit of excellence in the performing and visual arts and to the inspiration and education of others.” The internationally acclaimed choir, Gloriae Dei Cantores, makes its home here.

I am writing because we are in great need of lighting equipment including ellipsoidals, fresnels, PARs, trussing, a control board, and dimmers to name some items. If you are a company looking to upgrade your equipment, would you consider making a donation of your used equipment to us? Gloriae Dei Artes Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization, so all gifts are tax-deductible.

If you are able to help, please call 508-255-3999 and leave your name and a way for me to reach you, or you can e-mail gda@gdaf.org.

Thank you so much for considering my request,
Sister Victoria MacNeil