11/06/2013 13:06 HRS

The Association of British Theatre Technicians is to use the opportunity of this week’s annual ABTT Theatre Show as a springboard to engage even further with its membership, its partner organisations and the wider industry supporting the technical arts.

More so than ever, the ABTT believes now is the time to build on the aims laid down in its Memorandum of Association: to ‘facilitate the exchange of ideas and information amongst theatre technicians … in any part of the world’ and to support ‘the advancement of public education in the technical subjects connected with the theatre and … promotion … of good theatre design and technical presentation of theatrical works’.

The start of this sees a revitalised Seminar Programme at the ABTT Theatre Show, fulfilling the mission to provide information, stimulate debate, provide a platform for discussion and offer some learning, as part of the visitor experience, alongside the exhibitor stands and business opportunities.

Other examples of how the ABTT supports these aims can be seen in the
sponsorship of the official Report for the Theatres Trust Conference: Thriving Theatres, and in its underpinning of the quadrennial International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference, due again in 2014.

The ABTT is also committed to encouraging the new generation of practitioners bringing talent and enthusiasm into the industry. With this aim, the Association will be seeking representation on its Council of Management from the ranks of its Young Associates & Student Associates. Their perspective and experiences are essential in influencing and strengthening the organisation that will support them throughout their careers.

Benefits of membership continue to be reviewed and increased, not only for the working technician – most recently with the implementation of insurance packages tailored specifically to suit – but also for the influential Industry Supporters Group, a dedicated section of the membership for commercial companies, whose growth (year on-year) has been invaluable in the support and expertise it provides.

The focus to link the membership through social media has resulted in a steady increase in ‘followers’ to its Twitter account and adoption of the Technical Access Passport (TAP) scheme has stepped-up, with new features and a trainer module coming online. Also, details on the new improved ABTT website, with better user functionality, will be announced soon.

Training remains a core activity of the ABTT. From the Theatre Show onwards the Association has information about its initiative to provide an ABTT Training Package for creative apprentices. Derived from the experience of employers such as White Light in supporting apprenticeships and the considerations of Skillscene – the industry forum for strategic consultation and initiative – this scheme promises to assist in providing appropriate
training within the apprenticeship structure and in promoting technical theatre as an exciting career option for talented young people.

To support this work, encourage high standards and keep the workforce safe, the ABTT will continue to work independently and in collaboration to produce codes of practice and guidance. The most recent publication is the new edition of Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment 2013. This is the core publication by which the industry looks to its own regulation and the ABTT believes it is essential to ensure that we continue to be able to produce and present performance to world-class standards. The new edition, the first for five years, goes on sale at the Theatre Show.

Finally, the Association continues to consolidate and seek new relationships, cooperations and affiliations with organisations, authorities, government departments or associations, where there is shared ground and where issues of mutual interest and importance can be influenced for the common good.

As an example, the Association was pleased to contribute along with a consortium of employers to an Employers Ownership of Skills bid, seeking national funding to support industry assessment. The outcome of the initial application will be known in the coming months.

The ABTT is also investigating the provision of training regarding the application of BS7909, providing guidance relating to temporary power supplies in the presentation of live performance. This is being developed with the Association’s partner in the world of film & television: Skillset.

Commenting on the ABTT’s future plans, Robin Townley, the Association’s Associate Executive Officer said, “The Association believes that for the technical arts to remain a vibrant and vital part of the UK Entertainment Industry, those who work within them must be able to influence the regulation under which they operate, and the training and assessment with which they are served.”

“To do this, each and every technician needs to be able to engage with their industry and have the opportunity to both benefit from the good work that has gone before and contribute to the work yet to be done.”

“The ABTT seeks to provide this point of engagement for all: from the most senior and experienced members of our community, right the way through to those who are not yet part of it but seek to become so. In seeking to be at the forefront of all the issues that relate to the execution and development of the technical arts, on any stage, at any time, the ABTT seeks to fulfil its obligation to represent the technical community by providing them with the support, access to information, regulation and professional development, as well as the service and resources they require to work at the cutting edge of their industry.”