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First Round of USITT Rigging Safety Initiative Grants Awarded

Fraying ropes, brakes that do not fully hold, line sets not properly weighted, kinked cable, and a lineset that makes "an incredible grinding noise" when flown in or out. All those things and more are causing concern at theatres in United States schools -- leading to applications to USITT's Rigging Safety Initiative.

Less than four months after the program was first announced at USITT's 51st annual conference, the first 12 recipients of grants to allow inspection of stage rigging and education of users of that rigging have been announced.

"We have had tremendous interest in this program, and the initial round of applications show just how vital this program will be," noted Joe Aldridge, USITT's president and a strong proponent of the initiative, which is open to all secondary schools, public and private, nationwide.

"Founding sponsor J.R. Clancy has provided a level of support which includes not only a rigging inspection, but training for up to eight faculty, staff, and students on the safe operation and maintenance of systems in their specific schools," Aldridge said. "Having both the inspection and the educational component, at little or no cost to the educational facility, is key to our mission to improve safety and awareness."

The inspections and educational module will be provided by ETCP-certified inspectors who work for USITT member companies. USITT has members willing to work with schools in all 48 contiguous states. "We're working on Hawaii and Alaska," said David Grindle, USITT executive director, "but we want inspectors from within those states to keep costs down."

Schools which have been chosen to participate in the first round of the initiative stretch from Ripon High School in Wisconsin; to Westfield High School in New Jersey, to Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa; to Oakes Christian School in Westlake Village, California; Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, and Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. Several applications included photos of conditions within their schools which helped the selection team make decisions.

The cost to the schools is only that of the travel and housing of the inspector (if necessary) and any special equipment required (such as a lift or other item to access the system).

The next deadline for the Rigging Safety Initiative is October 15, and applications are available online at the URL listed below.

USITT plans to review application and provide grants twice a year.


(29 June 2011)

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