Open Forum

1.  Technical Directors

Posted 04-30-2014 14:42
I was wondering if anyone could answer a few questions for me regarding tech for an auditorium.  I am at a high school which rents the auditorium space to outside users.  There are also several things that are booked from within the school.  My questions are: 1. Who handles the lights and sound for the two groups?
2. Is this person someone other than the director of the theater program?
3. Is this person paid to handle these duties?
4.  Does this person handle programs that are presented during the school day as well as in the evenings and on the weekends?

Cynthia Hess
Educator & theatre director
Spring Lake Park, MN

2.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-01-2014 06:45
We had a beautiful theater open in an area we lived recently.  It is high tech and able to bring in touring productions.  They hired one person well respected in the technical theater world to run the facility.  That is his only job and he keeps busy.  He is not the theater director at the school,but he does handle their tech.  He is in charge of all programming in the facility during the day, evening and on weekends.
I am unsure how they handle the lights and sound.

Vickie Fuller
Yardley PA

3.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-02-2014 08:06
Dear Cynthia-

If you are in a public school there is probably an Assistant Principal in charge of facilities who does the contracts for the outside rentals.  In those cases someone specific (like you or a tech student you trust) can generally be contracted and paid for your time supervising and running lights and sound. For groups within your school you generally have to make arrangements to run the lights/sound yourself (and won't get paid extra-especially if you already get a stipend for doing theatre) or you may want to train some responsible students who can pick up these extra "gigs" for Thespian points.  I have been able to negotiate these students being paid hourly by outside groups and the internal groups (like band, chorus, National Honor Society) give gift cards to the kids for their time.

I think a lot of what happens depends on how protective you are of your equipment.  I have found for my own protection that I don't want just anyone running the theatre's equipment. I also don't want to be there 10,000 extra hours and be "volunteering" my time when I already do plenty of that to get my productions done.  If your school is renting to outside folks then you should definintely be able to be paid for your contracted time.    

Mary Hayes Ernst
Drama Teacher/Director
Forsyth County Schools
Ball Ground GA

4.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-09-2014 10:26
This has been a conundrum for our school for 10+ years that has FINALLY (!) been solved/resolved. 

The district doesn't really understand what a tech director does and so they always thought the band teacher should have the position and it was a stipend and a class.  To make a long story short, our district now understands what a person who doesn't know what they are doing can do to damage a program and facility (and what a qualified person can actually do!) and that we need to hire outside of the current teacher base because the job is so specialized that not every band, drama or choir teacher can do the things required of a tech director. 

That being said we have now hired a tech director who teaches the one tech class of 35 students and is in charge of the after school and during the day business in the auditorium that involves outside groups or even district groups (that are not the general theatre classes).

To answer your questions:
1.  The lights and sound for inside and outside groups are run by the technical director.  If it is just a theatre class that needs the lights turned on the teacher does that on their own.  This can be done from backstage so no booth access is required.

2.  I am the theatre director and I have never been in charge of the technical direction.  This used to be the band teacher who also does marching band at 7am and then may need to be in the auditorium some nights until 9pm or later and so this position became an outside person who organized a tech club of students for after school hours and ran the evening events (both district and outside groups). 

3.  The current person (who will be leaving in June) was paid a stipend-- nothing to even cover rent or basic needs of a human being-- and was a sub in the district.  Now the school district understands (sort of!) that we need to pay a LIVING WAGE to the person who is in charge of this position.  At first they wanted to have 5 or 6 people do this job and the current tech director and I said no-- that one person needs to be in charge with a possible back up in case of emergency.  So next year the person in the Tech Director position will teach a class (a .something FTE) and will recieve approx. $15-$17 and hour for the after school stuff or any daytime hours that they are here working an event.  They will also be in charge of the set design which is an additional stipend.

Pieced together this is a living wage but without benefits.  The district also didn't want it to be called a Tech Director as it would be confused with the IT Tech person. 
4.  The Tech Director is in charge of all events in the auditorium except classes that meet during the day, first round of scheduling the auditorium (they are in charge of scheduling but their is a district person who does the master scheduling) and some major maintenance. 

BTW, we are the only high school in town so the entire district (minus one middle school and a few elementary schools) uses the space as the auditorium seats 900ish people.  This process has been ongoing for 10 years and we finally broke through the district red tape because we have a supportive, arts-oriented principal and a determined current Tech Director who made a great cast and doesn't take no for an answer. 

Hoping for the best for your situation!  :)

Julie Estrada
Theatre Arts Director
Loveland CO

5.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-01-2014 14:07
I have a Tech Theatre class.  Within that class are students who I have trained to run events.  They are district employees and get paid about $10 an hour.  Groups using the auditorium fill out forms detailing their needs  and I assign a crew to each event.  I receive a
stipend to train and organize the crews.

I hope that helps.

Todd Hermanson
Tigard OR

6.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-01-2014 20:39
I had a job like the one you describe when I was in high school.  I was the assistant to the technical director for our local performing arts center and in this position I provided technical services to outside groups-- bands, theater companies, musicians, magic acts, etc while also serving as the school's student tech director.  I was paid for the non school contact hours and served the school for speakers, events, etc as a student who was learning.  Our technical director was paid to manage my schedule, meet with users and provided training.  Many times, I worked events by myself, however.

Michael Johnson
Trinity NC

7.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-02-2014 15:53
Yes, Tigard High has been doing this successfully for years.  They did the tech for dance studios annual reviews, and some of them even worked for a summer musical company.  It would take a couple of years to get the program going, but Todd's program is a great option for a busy teacher. 

Vicki Bartholomew
Sherwood OR

8.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-02-2014 09:12
I have recently done some research in our area  because we are reviewing policies for our Performing Arts center. There seem to be two options, either the Theatre and Tech teachers manage the facility for a stipend or a separate PAC manager handles the facility . Our students  and adults are paid to manage outside paying events . Some schools in our area pay an hourly rate to work all school events outside the school day but theatre. Students work theatre for free because that is part of their training.
I am currently looking for policies on in-district bookings. Of course the PAC is the nicest place to host events so how do you determine who gets to book and how often they can book events?

Linda Rosenbusch
Round Rock TX

9.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-05-2014 14:53
Thank you for your response.  For our facility it is handled mostly on a first come-first served basis.  However, high school functions have first priority over community events.

Cynthia Hess
Educator & theatre director
Spring Lake Park MN

10.  RE:Technical Directors

Posted 05-05-2014 11:29
At my school, there are two people that handle that. Our Assistant to the Head of the Arts helps figure out what the people who are coming in need, lights/ sound/ set up ect. Then, the band director/ Head of the Arts department will either help set it up himself, ask for students help, and sometimes we have a couple of people who know our system that the school will pay to come and run things. A lot of times, if it is during the school day, the theatre tech crew will run it. We run all of our weekly assemblies too. Assemblies are coordinated through our Dean. 

Katie Siegel
ITO Chair
Huntsville AL