What is the ABTT?

The Association of British Theatre Technicians is a charity and membership organisation who campaign on behalf of the theatre industry to ensure legislation is appropriate to the industry’s needs. We provide technical advice, consultations, training and are a vital resource to those working in the technical theatre industry. We are governed by our Memorandum & Articles of Association.

In 1961, the Association was started with a small enthusiastic group… whose main purpose is to raise technical standards in the theatre by collecting and making available information concerning theatre planning, stage machinery, lighting and sound equipment, acoustic, scenery construction, stage management and all aspects of presentation. The Association provides a forum for discussion among theatre technicians through the publication of a newsletter and through regular meetings…the Association is not a trade union nor does it confer on members any professional status.

From these early beginnings, the Association’s membership rose to around 250 by the mid 60′s: 1970 stood at 400: Today the membership is around 2,000 and rising.

The Association has special interest groups such as Safety, IT, Theatre Planning, Design & Archaeology . These groups have shaped the industry in a vital way with the their advice & publications. London & Regional branches regularly hold meetings where members have the opportunity to exchange opinions and information.

  • The ABTT 2012 Annual Report is available to read here.
  • The ABTT 2013 Annual Report is available to read here.
  • The ABTT 2014 Annual Report is available to read here.
  • The ABTT 2015 Annual Report is available to read here.
  • The ABTT 2016 Annual Report is available to read here.

What does the ABTT do?

The ABTT are a resource for members to find the best information and advice on safe working practices within the theatre industry. We advise on safety, planning, good practice and enforcement, whilst also providing publications to support this knowledge. We encourage our members to validate and develop their skills through recognised training – providing technical education at all levels: in-service training and seminars. We are also encouraged networking and the exchange of information for the betterment of our members and the industry as a whole.

We have committees which focus on the interests of our members – including Safety, Training, Theatre Planning, Historical Research and Technical Standards. We also collaborated with SMA to create the Production Managers Forum as our members requested one.

We also run the ABTT Theatre Show and ITEAC conference which promote both backstage and front-of house equipment and supplies, plus the creation and development of these buildings. We bring together people with all levels of involvement from Architects to Technical and FOH Staff.

How does it work?

As the ABTT is a charitable framework supported by membership. The ABTT is run by  a council made up of Full Members (voted in to position) who maintain the running of the ABTT Group. Full Members of the ABTT can apply for these roles.

The ABTT have various types of memberships which are available to a range of people. From those just joining the industry , to qualified technicians through to architects who design the theatres! Membership types range from Student and Young Persons, Associate Member to full Member (those with voting rights, ability to apply for council and established experience in the Industry). We also have Retired memberships and memberships for Companies for numerous staff.

Companies can also become part of the Industry Supporters Group and have their name and brand associated with the ABTT and its work.

How is the ABTT Funded?

The ABTT is funded through its membership sunscriptions, donations, contributions from Industry Supporters and the revenue from the events and exhibitions each year.

Principles of the Association

  • To advise on safety, planning, good practice and enforcement.
  • To provide the best information and advice on safe working practices within the theatre industry.
  • To provide publications: Codes of Practice: Data Sheets:Journals.
  • To encourage pride at all times by enjoying and implementing good working practices.
  • To encourage technical education at all levels: provide In-service training and seminars.
  • To support the industry by networking information to members.
  • To provide a comprehensive building advice service.
  • Provide a comprehensive collection and dissemination of up to date information on technical matters.
  • Encourage exchange of information


1. Technical Help and Advice

Provides you with access to technical advice via our Safety Helpline or via email enquiry service. We can help to solve afety and technical problems for industry chat and difficult questions.

2. Quarterly Magazine: Sightline

Our Quarterly Magazine Siughtline will keep you up to date on what is happening within the Technical World through news, features and Safety Matters, providing you with current Safety Codes of Practice and Legislation

3. Networking Opportunities


4. Publications

Those with ABTT Memberships are eligible for discounts on all Books in the ABTT Store. We produce many publications including the theatre industry’s Codes of Practice specific to the industry’s needs.  We produce the Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment in association with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the District Surveyors Association and the Institute of Licensing. We also produce Guidance Notes on specific subjects when needed.

5. Training

We run training courses for technical and managerial skills; these include the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and specialist courses including Pyrotechnics and Risk Management.

6. Events

We organise events throughout the year which the ABTT Members can attend. We arrange visits, conferences, forums, lectures and meetings for our members. Trips to interesting theatres and productions are arranged, frequently organised by ABTT NorthNet, a very active branch of our members especially those north of Watford. We also run the annual Theatre Show of backstage and front-of house equipment and supplies and the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference.  ITEAC event every four years since 2002 and in 2018 we will be hosting the fifth quadrennial ITEAC Conference.

7. Committees

Anybody with ABTT Membership may apply to the Chairperson to any of our Committees if you have interest. We have a number of highly influential committees, including Safety, Training, Theatre Planning and Historical Research. We also collaborate in the organisation of specialist interest groups such as the Production Managers Forum, which is a joint venture with the Stage Management Association.

 8. Allied with National and International Organisations

The ABTT is the UK centre of OISTAT (International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians), APAC (Association of Performing Arts Collections) and SIBMAS (Société Internationale des Bibliothèques et des Musées des Arts du Spectacle aka International Association of Libraries, Museums, Archives and Documentation Centres of the Performing Arts).

As such, anyone who is a member for ABTT can also participate in OISTAT, APAC or SIBMAS activities, exhibitions, and seminars. See their website for further information.


When you join the ABTT, you can apply to become a full Member based on experience in the Industry via your CV and two references from your peers. The ABTT reviews the evidence presented, and if suitable will then provide you with recognition of your expertise and experience in the Industry by admitting you as a full Member to the electoral college at the core of the Associations Governance. As a member of the electoral college you are then eligble to serve and be nominated to the position of Trustee Director – and also particiapate in nominating and or voting.

10. Addition to your CV

An ABTT Membership is often looked on by Theatres and Organisations as a positive addition to your CV as it demonstrates an active participation in the Industry and desire to keep up to date. You can see below what has been said about the benefits of an ABTT Membership by some leaders in the Industry:

“When Charcoalblue receive CVs we pay particular attention to those that have completed the ABTT CAD course and the Bronze, Silver and Gold qualifications.  ABTT membership is always an indication of commitment to the industry and to staying ‘current’.” Andy Hayles, Managing Partner, Charcoalblue LLP.

“When first entering the industry I trained as an ABTT Theatre Electrician and I would not be where I am today without their help, guidance and contacts. The organisation remains as it was then: the best place for theatre related training, advice and safety information. Join the ABTT and get informed and get connected.” Tom Mannings, Head of Technical, English National Opera.

“When we carry out recruitment we look for relevant industry experience and training. Membership of the ABTT helps to support this. It shows the person has a strong interest in current and developing technical theatre practices, as well as being up to date with relevant guidance. We also consider ABTT training particularly relevant.” Graeme McGinty, Technical Manager, The Place, London.

“We use the ABTT Technical Standards, Codes of Practice and Guidance Notes on a weekly basis. We are always interested in job candidates who have discovered these sources of information and have  already joined the ABTT. ” Paul Moore, Technical and Operations Director, Curve Theatre, Leicester.

“Membership of the ABTT always indicates to me that someone is interested in the “business” and the industry as a whole rather than a specific job – which I think is a good sign.” Bryan Raven, Managing Director, White Light Ltd.

“ABTT membership shows that a potential employee or technician is engaged with and understands the industry and the resources available to them. They are obviously fully committed to a career in professional theatre, know where to go to for guidance or information and membership helps them to stand out from the crowd.“ Chris Whybrow, Technical Manager, Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

“I spend a lot of time training live performance and event technicians in health and safety. I always recommend ABTT membership to delegates – as it is a fundamental source of Industry information and guidance.” John Young, owner, John Young Creative Industries Ltd.

“ABTT Membership indicates someone is passionate about technical theatre. You can be assured they are aware of the best channels to consult for relevant information and they care about issues that affect the industry.” Michael Brooksbank, General Manager, CHAUVET® Europe Ltd.

“We particularly expect UK-based candidates wishing to develop their career in theatre consulting with Arup to have the membership of the ABTT that is appropriate to their age, current position and experience”  Rob Harris, Director, Acoustics and Theatre Consulting, Arup Fellow.

“ Being a large organisation, ATG has numerous employment opportunities for technical staff. I take an active role in recruitment of our senior technical staff and also our apprentices. When considering candidates for a role at any level I look for memberships to industry bodies. A candidate with ABTT membership demonstrates to me that they have an interest in keeping current with industry best practice and guidance”  Stuart Graham, Head of Technical Operations, Ambassador Theatre Group.