ABTT Celebrates 60 years!

11 January 2021

2021 sees the Association of British Theatre Technicians celebrate the diamond jubilee of its foundation. The Association will be marking this milestone with a year of online activities, and a resumption of the popular face to face in-person events when restrictions allow. It will also take the opportunity to dip into the rich depths of the ABTT Archive in order to share videos and interviews. There will also be more seminars, new awards and innovative events throughout the year.

“It is a privilege to be part of the ABTT in its 60th year and to participate in its diamond jubilee.  It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the role it has played throughout its existence in supporting those engaged in the design and construction of places of entertainment as well as those delivering technical and production support to live performance.  It is a significant milestone and must be seen as a tribute to the Association’s membership, volunteers, trustees, supporters, and officers, all of whom have served the ABTT, and consequently their industry, so willingly and well over the last 60 years.  It is an institution which with its experience and resilience is fundamental to sustaining the technical and production disciplines within live performance.  By so doing it will enable them to continue with confidence despite the huge challenges presented by the current pandemic. ” said Robin Townley, CEO of the ABTT.

The ABTT continues to provide technical advice, consultations, training, publications, and vital resources while providing members with networking opportunities through events, seminars and exhibitions. Its aim is to keep its industry, especially in the current challenging circumstances, up to date, informed and safe through supporting best practice.

Since 1961, the ABTT has been collecting, creating and sharing information with members, which it continues to do to this day. During the 2020 pandemic, the ABTT quickly altered its approach and embraced working online. The Association curated and produced  10 seminars which ran over Wednesday 10th – Thursday 11th June 2020 in the absence of the postponed 2020 ABTT Theatre Show. The popularity of these initial conversations prompted follow on seminars through 2020 covering topics including reopening theatres, sustainability, diversity, live streaming and more.

Over the years the ABTT has evolved to meet the needs of its members and its industry. This continues today and a new Apprenticeship Network, was recently founded by ABTT Young Associate Representative Tamykha Patterson to help build a community around these individuals who have been particularly impacted by the recent lockdowns.

Tamykha Patterson added, “As young professionals, we are the future of our industry, so it is extremely important that there is a platform that provides a high standard of industry recognised training, courses and events, offers safety & technical advice and is always improving technical standards to support better working environments. That platform is the ABTT.”

The ABTT Safety Committee has been an important feature of the Association since the early 1960s and throughout 2020 the group more than doubled in size to represent a much broader group serving the needs of theatre and the wider regulated entertainment industry. Covid-safe guidance and resources have been made available for free and work continues with other organisations to help develop health and safety regulations to allow theatres to reopen. The ‘incredible leadership and collaboration’ provided was recognised in a shortlisting for Most Influential Team in the 2020 Safety & Health Practitioner Awards.

ABTT Safety Committee Chairman, Michael Anderson responded to this nomination by saying:

“We at the ABTT are really proud to have been shortlisted. Bringing so many theatre specialists together to develop practical guidance for all to use has been so important to ensure a collective set of information, in a ready to use format. Being recognised as an influential team among these finalists is really important for our industry which has been completely devastated by the required control measures due to COVID-19. We make theatre: if we can’t make theatre, we make a plan to make theatre!”

The Association has built an outstanding reputation for its commitment to developing and validating technical skills within the Industry. Technical training is delivered throughout the UK and as far afield as Kuala Lumpar and Hong Kong. Last year, with the help of partner venues the ABTT worked quickly to find a safe way of continuing to provide their practical and theoretical courses – managing to run over 10 training courses throughout the year, passing on vital technical skills to its candidates despite the ongoing pandemic.

Current ABTT Chairman Richard Bunn celebrated the vision and dedication of everyone involved, adding, “For 60 years the ABTT has been an important part of the theatre community and has always striven to be a vibrant hub for training, advice, safety information and mutual support. I am immensely grateful to my predecessors for creating, building, and sustaining our organisation. I thank all our trustees, members and supporters who give up their time freely to enable the ABTT to continue to support and promote technical excellence. The current times are challenging our industry and people like never before and I am proud that our Association has been able to continue to support the sector with vitality and relevance.”

About the ABTT

The Association of British Theatre Technicians is an independent charity working with its membership to set standards in technical excellence, safety and compliance for theatre and live performance. The organisation provides advice, training, and guidance both for those working in the design of places of entertainment and for those engaged in their operation and the production of performance wherever it is presented.