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Pearce Hire is proud to announce its first time sponsorship of the 2014 Technical Theatre Awards. The Technical Theatre Awards were launched in 2013 as a way of formally recognising the outstanding achievements and dedication of the backstage ‘unsung heroes’ of the technical theatre industry. The awards are presented annually at the PLASA London exhibition at ExCel each October. The nominees are shortlisted from individuals elected by their industry peers at the beginning of the year, and then voting conducted between June and September decides the final recipient of each award.
This year there are a total of 17 awards and Pearce Hire is sponsoring the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Stage Crew’ award. This award highlights an individual within any role of the Stage Department, who is renowned for their dedication and effort to this discipline and respected amongst the technical theatre community.
Pearce Hire view these awards as a way to publically recognise the technical expertise that is required backstage to ensure an excellent standard of production takes to the stage – be it on the West End stage or in a local theatre.
‘The Stage Crew award seemed to provide the perfect synergy with what we do at Pearce Hire as well as our main customer base’ observes Shaun Pearce, MD Pearce Hire. ‘After all, the stage crew are the life-blood of our industry’, he continues. ‘We have many designers, operators and lots of kit but with no crew to unload it, rig it, work it and then load it all back to prep for the next show, where would the industry be?’
Alongside their sponsorship of the Technical Theatre Awards and recognising excellence in stagecraft, Pearce Hire has a well-established intern/work experience programme at their HQ in Peterborough, working with their local performing arts and FE college to nurture the next generation of technical talent and stage crew for the industry.
The shortlist of nominees for this year’s ‘Outstanding Achievement in Stage Crew’ are:
Online voting is via the Technical Theatre Awards website until midnight on Tuesday 30th September 2014 - http://www.technicaltheatreawards.com/voting/. The Technical Theatre Awards will be presented on the TheatreStage (R40) at PLASA London, ExCel, on Tuesday 7th October 2014.
‘This award will hopefully inspire all crew to reach for higher goals and technical excellence, and be rewarded with the recognition that they deserve’ concludes Shaun Pearce.
Over the past few months Pearce Hire has embraced it’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) and established a link with a local further education college to provide an internship programme for young people in their locality.
Peterborough Regional College runs a BTEC Extended Diploma in Music Technology. It is a 2-year full-time vocational course covering all aspects of music technology and is equivalent to studying for 3 A-Levels. Subjects covered include live sound and production; studio recording; acoustics and audio engineering; and media, marketing and promotional skills.
The link established between Pearce Hire and Peterborough Regional College has enabled those students with an interest in the Live Events sector to go into the workplace of this busy production and hire company and learn the ropes in a bona-fide work environment.
The idea was originally mooted by Shaun Pearce, MD of Pearce Hire because of his enthusiasm for supporting youngsters in the sector, and instilling a foundation of ‘best practice’ from the start of their careers.
‘I’m a keen advocate of supporting the ‘next generation’ of technicians and production managers in our industry’ explains Pearce. ‘Whilst there are a myriad of vocational courses that students can take in relation to this industry, whatever you learn in a classroom can only really be understood once supported by hands-on experience in the workplace.’
‘We decided to formalise our commitment to the young people studying at the college, and to give them a real taster for what it is like to work in this dynamic and creative industry of ours. I can’t deny it’s a two-way street of course - by engaging with students at the college, we can hopefully begin to build up a valid database of qualified localised crew whom we can call on at busy times in the year.’
Greg Sieling, course leader at Peterborough Regional College, is as passionate as Shaun about what they are setting up.
‘Students on our BTEC course with a particular flair or passion for live event production are cherry-picked to join the 6-week placement with Pearce Hire. It is the first time we have engaged with a local commercial organisation to provide a practical work experience programme of this kind and it has been extremely well received by everyone involved in the process. The feedback from the students is very positive, because they are developing their competencies in a formalised and practical way. We are using a log-book structure to record the skills they are learning and actively using on their placement.’
The pilot scheme took place in July and has been swiftly followed by a second intake of students in the past month. ‘These placements are giving ambitious students who want a career in the live events and production sector an invaluable insight into the expectations of the industry’ explains Greg. ‘It is also giving them some relevant work experience to bolster their CVs’.
And what of the students? How do they feel about the opportunity of a 6-week internship with Pearce Hire?
David Richardson was one of the first in-take of students earlier this year. Not only did he fully embrace the opportunity of working in Pearce Hire’s warehouse to gain practical experience, he was so good at what he did, the company has now offered him a permanent part-time role whilst he completes his B-TEC course. All this with a view to it becoming his first full time job once he graduates in Summer 2014.
‘It has been a dream placement that looks likely to turn into my dream job!’ he enthuses.
What more could any young person looking to work in this industry ask for?
Providing production services on a greenfield site can be tricky at the best of times. The annual ‘British Birdwatching Fair’ takes this to another level!
Never a company to shy away from such a challenge, the power, lighting and audio delivery for the Birdfair is something that Pearce Hire has been engaged in since well before 1995, demonstrating yet another longstanding customer-client relationship which has evolved over the years as the event has gone from strength to strength.
2013 saw the event celebrate its silver jubilee of offering a wide variety of activities for birders and naturalists. Known by some as the ‘Birdwatcher’s Glastonbury’ the event continues to grow, providing greater challenges for the production team year-on-year.
The Birdfair is run by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust in partnership with the RSPB and takes place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve - a beautiful reservation that is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA). And so Pearce Hire has a unique task when the British Birdwatching Fair takes residence here.
Project Manager John Huson of Pearce Hire explains: ‘We have to be exceptionally careful how we distribute equipment round the site and the routes we take for cabling to avoid damaging the environment. This is of course something we are used to doing on all greenfield sites, but with Rutland Water we have to be even more conscientious because it is an SSSI.’
And this is no mean feat, when the quantity of cabling installed amounts to over 10kms, in order to supply power to over 200 exhibitors over 10 large exhibition marquees on a 12-acre site!
The site is right next to Rutland Water, and is, in some areas, lower than water level. When it’s a wet year (which fortunately it wasn’t this year), this creates additional logistical challenges, alongside the fact that there are protected hedgerows separating all the fields the event takes place on. Careful planning of cabling and distribution layout is required to reduce damage to the grasslands and as the show footprint increases this can alter each year. As in previous years, the entire site was fed from a single pair of synchronised generators, and because of the necessary location of them it meant the furthest distribution unit had over 450m of cabling between it, and the generator.
In addition to the power supply and cabling to serve the entire temporary infrastructure around the show, Pearce Hire also provides lighting and audio systems for the four on-site lecture marquees. Standard lighting rigs were installed in the lecture theatre tents, using all LED fixtures to reduce power consumption as well as to minimise the heat radiated from the lighting fixtures. The main events tent, featuring a mixture of lectures, quizzes and presentations was kitted out with a more complex conference style lighting rig. Standard conference audio packages were provided for the lecture marquees, and in the events tent an enhanced package including L-Acoustics speakers driven by L-Acoustics LA8 controller amplifiers. From an infrastructure point of view, Pearce Hire provided the site-wide 100v line PA system for event and visitor announcements inside and outside all marquees and across the site, and all site and emergency lighting (using low energy fittings to meet the sustainable credentials of the event).
Tim Appleton MBE is the Manager of the Rutland Water Reserve and Co-Organiser of the British Birdwatching Fair. He applauds the approach Pearce Hire take with this challenging project : ‘Pearce Hire has been our main contractor on Birdfair for many years, and they provide not only a continuity of service, but a first-class service. We trust them 100% on their delivery – they know the site like the back of their hand and come in every year and immediately get on with what is now a massive undertaking. They show respect for the unique environment they are working in, and go that extra mile to safeguard the reserve.’
Concludes Pearce Hire’s John Huson – ‘We love the challenge of the Birdfair and take great pride in ensuring that we do what we can with the production of the event to protect the fragile and important natural environment that we are working in. It’s a pleasure to see the show grow each year, and we enjoy being part of that success’.