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USITT 2017 Brings Technical Theatre to St. Louis at America’s Center

USA – USITT’s Annual Conference & Stage Expo took St. Louis by storm over the span of 8th - 11th March bringing 5,500 attendees and 307 exhibitors to the city, making this our biggest yet.

This is second time St. Louis has hosted the annual conference, bringing in an economic impact of $5.88 million, with attendees filling ten hotels in downtown St. Louis and patronising local arts venues and dining establishments throughout their stay.

Some highlights follow:

Animated Broadway veteran and voice actor Ken Page, best known for his voicework in the cult classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, gave a rousing keynote address to kick off the start of the annual Conference & Stage Expo. His personal anecdotes, stories of his time as a director, and a short sampling of his operatic voice filled the America’s Center Ballroom.

The entrance of Stage Expo took on a new look this year with a 136ft seamless video wall covering the entirety of the entrance. This spectacle invited thousands of people to gather and swarm the Expo as soon as the doors opened to a huge display of theatre technology comprised of over 300 exhibitors.

With a closing night celebration planned for 1,100 attendees at City Museum, the walls were pushed to their limits when a record 1,500 came to celebrate and partake in the whimsical world of underground caves, ten-storey slides, and even a fully functioning human hamster wheel.

A Friday morning panel entitled Distinguished Award Winners in Conversation gathered together Rocky Paulson, Fred Foster, Liz Covey, Rick Thomas, Santo Loquasto, Joseph Drummond, John Conklin, and Wally Russell Mentor Award winner Ellen Schlaefer for a lively exchange about their lives and career experiences.

USITT’s Gateway Programme brought 12 students from under-represented populations in entertainment production to the conference. These students were paired with mentors to enhance their experience and boost their careers.

A Gateway Round table was held where mentors and mentees came together to discuss their conference experience and feelings towards the Gateway Programme. USITT also offered several sessions on diversity and accessibility in the arts, as well as sessions tailored to production technology for worship services, and “green” production, among other trending issues.

USITT’s executive director David Grindle announced the upcoming launch of INNOVA: Online Learning for Professionals in Entertainment Design & Technology.

INNOVA is a dual partnership between USITT and ESTA. INNOVA is a platform that will give access to on-demand classes created by experts, vetted by experts, and delivered via a platform that meets standards for continuing education credits for certification renewals. With INNOVA, users will be able to purchase courses, view them on schedule, and receive certificates of credit for certification renewal, or to submit to their employer for proof of continuing education. INNOVA is slated to launch at the end of April.

USITT thanks all the event sponsors and partners who were a part of USITT 2017.

13th April 2017

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