The Board of Directors of the Wally Russell Foundation has announced the awarding the 2011 Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award to Rusty Brutsché, vice-chairman of PRG. A close associate of Wally Russell’s for many years, Brutsché has a long history in the lighting industry. The award will be presented at LDI2011 in Orlando, FL in October.

Currently, Brutsché manages the development and introduction of new technologies for PRG. As far back as he can remember, he has always been fascinated with all things mechanical. Not long after joining a rock band in high school, he began building his own audio equipment. After earning a mechanical engineering degree at Southern Methodist University, he spent two years developing laser technology at Texas Instruments.

He then transformed his audio hobby into a career by founding Showco, an audio engineering and rental house, with two other partners in 1970. Showco quickly became a complete production services company. By 1975, Showco’s offerings included lighting, scenery, and trucking as well as audio rentals. While managing Showco’s overall growth, Brutsché maintained a very “hands on” approach to client service by personally mixing the performances of many artists, including James Taylor and the legendary rock group Led Zeppelin.

In 1980, Brutsché’s drive for invention led him to introduce the entertainment industry’s first line of automated lights. Following their introduction under the Vari*Lite brand name, Brutsché soon formed a new company under that name to focus on the ongoing development of automated lighting technology. The technical innovations introduced under the Vari*Lite name have since set many of the standards by which all other automated lighting technologies are measured.

In 2000 Showco was acquired by Clair Brothers Audio, and in 2002 Genlyte/Philips acquired Vari*Lite’s manufacturing operations. In 2004 Brutsché completed the merger of the VLPS rental operations with PRG. The resulting entity offers all of the services offered by the original Showco, but on a much larger scale and with the largest and most technically advanced lighting inventory in the world.

Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award winners:
2011 – Rusty Brutsché
2010 – Dave Cunningham
2009 – Joel Rubin
2008 – Richard Pilbrow
2007 - Fred Foster
2006 - Allen Branton
2005 - Richard Belliveau
2004 - George Izenour
2003 - Sonny Sonnenfeld
2002 - Jimmy Fuller
2001 - Jim Bornhorst
2000 - Stan Miller
1999 - Don Stern
1998 - Bran Ferren
1997 - Fred Bentham
1996 - Francis DeVerna
1995 - Tharon Musser
1994 - George van Buren
1993 - Charles Altman
1992 - Wally Russell