It's fitting that this issue's cover story revolves around the staging of major events at a trade show — in this case, Detroit's legendary Auto Show — because, at press time, we were once again embarking on yet another important show for the rental and staging industry, NSCA. Beyond that, NAB was looming, and old reliable InfoComm is coming later this summer. InfoComm and NSCA attract flocks of A/V and rental/staging professionals, and understandably so considering the pursuit of integration at those shows — broad, synergistic coverage of the many key disciplines that routinely collaborate with each other during the staging of live events and the outfitting of venues large and small.

But this year rank-and-filers from the staging world will no doubt also be found at NAB, CEDIA, COMDEX, LDI, AES, NAMM, and even the CES consumer show, among others. This orgy of shows with pieces of relevance, either directly or indirectly, to the A/V and staging industries, proves that InfoComm and NSCA are on the right track in their advertised pursuit of integration. (Integration, in fact, is part of the NSCA show's official description — the Systems Integration Expo.)

As lighting expert Nook Schoenfeld explains in this issue's lighting column, so-called “lighting guys” now need to “do video,” (see page 16), and multi-purpose control systems are all the rage. Indeed, any technology, strategy, technique, or philosophy that permits show producers and system integrators to get a more diverse bang for their buck are pretty much mandatory, given the current state of the economy. And such people don't particularly care where these solutions come from — cinema display technology, home entertainment devices, the IT or Web world, or wherever.

ICIA officials say this drive toward integration lies behind its recent decision to discontinue a partnership with Europe's KölnMesse to put on InfoComm Europe — canceling that show for this year. The cancellation of that particular event, according to Randal Lemke, ICIA's executive director, happened specifically to give the organization time to put together its own more diversified version of the European show, slated to launch in 2004. At press time, the initial announcement about all this had just come down, and so Lemke was unable to address many particulars, including the new name, venue, and date for the 2004 show. But he vigorously insisted the purpose of the move was to give Europe what the American InfoComm has been pursuing — “a true systems integration show.”

“We want full InfoComms for Europe and Asia and to keep evolving the U.S. show [coming to Orlando in June this year],” says Lemke. “The notion is to encompass shows that are attractive to the entire A/V communications industry, with not only a focus on display technology, but in addition to that, audio, control, conferencing, rental and staging activities, more educational programs, more networking opportunities. To do that, we felt we had to run the show ourselves, and that is why we discontinued the agreement with KolnMesse regarding InfoComm Europe. But we feel all these shows have to be useful both for people working in fixed environments and the rental/staging industry.”