It is always amusing to me me how the live events business has allowed such practices as referring to sound persons as “engineers“. This is a good example of how the special events production industry has evolved outside of the mainstream. Real engineers have college degrees. They face rigorous testing and must be licensed before they ply their trade. All a sound “engineer” needs is a Sharpie and some gaffers tape!
I’ve Been There and I’m No Engineer
We were in the outdoor staging business for many years, and I must disclose, upfront, of being guiulty of more than one questionable decision. We are all deeply committed to the concept that “the show must go on“. I am now amazed that over a period of more than 20 years no one ever asked me who designed this roof, who built this stage, and what are their qualifications? The ability to buy imported trussing and lifts makes things even worse.
Somewhere along the way, our commitment to hard work and quick thinking manage to allow us to escape the scrutiny (government and otherwise) that similar industries must submit to every day. Those days will end.
Can “Fly By Night” Be A Good Thing?
We joke that building stages was like having a construction job without a lunch break. The joke should also include “and without a permit“. The building of temporary structures puts performers and audience members at the same sort of risk they would be exposed to when shows are in permanent buildings. The fly-by-night nature (I don’t mean this in a derogatory manner, since we literally do “fly-by-night) of what we do allows the work to escape the inspection and permitting process.
The evolution of stage roofs a tent over a flat bed truck to massive structures like that ones in use today happened in rapid fashion. The notion that an unlicensed contractor can hang thousands of pounds of equipment over the heads of audience members and performers without being subjected to formal training, licensing and inspection now must come to an end.
Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517