Support Safer Student Stages This Holiday Season

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Ethan Gilson.of.ALPSinspectsStageAtMarbleheadHS

Ethan Gilson, ETCP certified rigging inspector from Advanced Lighting & Production Services (ALPS) of Randolph, MA, performs an inspection of the rigging system at Marblehead High School in Marblehead, MA.

Are you looking for that perfect cause for your year-end giving as 2014 comes to a close?

‘Tis the season of holiday concerts, plays and pageants—a good time to support the cause of stage safety at schools around the country.

USITT’s Rigging Safety Initiative provides free stage rigging inspections and stage crew safety training for secondary schools, which often lack the resources to ensure their stages are safe. USITT launched the program with founding sponsor J.R .Clancy, Inc., in 2011, and has since approved 88 schools for inspections and training. A total of 52 have been inspected so far, with more scheduled in the New Year.

More demand than supply
But as more schools discover the program, USITT has more applications than it can fund. More than 160 schools have applied to the program—more than 50 this past fall alone. As more schools realize they don’t know when their aging stage rigging was last inspected, USITT will need more financial support for this program. Its selection committee performs a sort of “triage” to assist those with the biggest safety concerns first, but until an inspector stands backstage and looks at the rigging, there’s no way to know if hidden dangers lurk in some of these school theatres.

Corporate sponsors Shepard Exposition Services, Electronic Theatre Controls, and H&H Specialties have all contributed, as have individual donors. (USITT recently achieved a Gold Rating from GuideStar, indicating the highest level of financial transparency for a non-profit organization. One hundred percent of donations to the Rigging Safety Initiative are used to fund rigging inspections.)

For all these reasons, we urge you to support USITT’s Rigging Safety Initiative this season. Give those kids a standing ovation for their holiday production—and then consider donating to student stage safety at

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