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Green Guardians: Event Infrastructure

The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly initiative boosting the profiles of those working at the forefront of sustainability, in the hope that it might also inspire others.

The 2021 list, which originally ran in IQ 103, includes 40 entries across eight categories, highlighting some of the organisations and individuals who are working so tirelessly to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.

This year’s winners have been chosen by a judging panel that includes experts from A Greener Festival, Greener Events, Julie’s Bicycle, the Sustainability in Production Alliance, the Sustainable Event Council and the Tour Production Group.

IQ will publish entries across all categories over the coming weeks. Catch up on the previous instalment of the Green Guardians Guide which looks at artists and activists.


Continest
Continest container units are a market-leading, award-winning and eco-friendly portable accommodation solution, utilising innovative foldable container technology. The flat-packed containers are specially constructed to enable quick and easy transportation, installation and relocation, and their groundbreaking design has won plaudits around the world.

A great solution for events, venues and brands looking to increase their facility and temporary accommodation capacity in an environmentally conscious way, Continest provides solutions to help meet sustainability targets. Due to their patented design, multiple units can be transported on a single truck, enabling huge savings on road.

In 2020, d&b launched its Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) programme offering customers reconditioned loudspeaker systems

d&b audiotechnik
Aware of the impact that the live entertainment industry has on the environment, d&b makes a conscious effort to ensure that sustainability is a permanent part of its mission with the company developing effective programmes to support this undertaking.

d&b is EMAS certified, meaning it observes a set of guiding principles, including upholding human rights and well-being, resource protection, energy and emission reduction, product responsibility, sustainable innovation, and much more.

In 2020, d&b launched its Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) programme offering customers reconditioned loudspeaker systems. Purchasers benefit from a rider-friendly sound reinforcement system while helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the consumption of raw materials.

This programme makes d&b one of the first sound companies to adopt an organised approach to sustainability and reliability in the pro audio industry. The first-ever CPO J-Series system was recently installed at Westville Music Bowl in Connecticut, USA.

d&b is committed to ensuring its new products are environmentally responsible as well. The recently launched D40 amplifier combines advanced voltage management to drive systems that demand less input power. The D40 includes enhanced energy-saving features, power efficiency and automatic wake-up for environmentally responsible and sustainable green building requirements.

Alongside recycling and responsible disposal of end-of-life equipment, PRG regularly rebalances equipment to reduce freight

PRG
Sustainable practices have been at the heart of PRG’s ongoing development throughout the pandemic. The company now boasts a huge global network, having set up a group of 22 digital studios around the world in one year, including xR Virtual Production Studios in Los Angeles, Hamburg and Paris.

This ensures that the company’s EMEA customer base has access to PRG’s state-of-the-art facilities and expertise wherever they are in the world.

This global reach is aided by The PRG Alliance, a series of 15 partner companies worldwide that support clients locally with an exceptional quality of innovative event production solutions.

The company’s commitment to providing consistent service locally is mobilised largely thanks to the PRG Crew Platform, which allows warehouses and events to be staffed with local talent, reducing the global carbon footprint involved in transporting employees.

PRG is also committed to sustainable practices in its technology and is a member of various industry accredited programmes, including Albert.

Alongside its recycling and responsible disposal of end-of-life equipment, PRG regularly rebalances equipment to reduce freight.

Its products adhere to this sustainable mission. The PRG SpaceframeTM, for example, is an ultra-lightweight, collapsible and fully wind-braced, carbon-fibre touring frame with integrated LED panels. This product dramatically reduces pre-tour engineering time, shipping footprint/weight, carbon emissions, load-in and load-out times, as well as labour required on tour and locally.

NNNN has succeeded in designing speaker solutions that reduce energy consumption by up to 90% compared to other brands

NNNN
NNNN was created to target the audio market with a disruptive solution and mindset, combining acoustic quality with sustainability.

The company’s patents enable it to do with sound what LED did with light, and it has succeeded in designing speaker solutions that reduce energy consumption by up to 90% compared to other brands.

As yet another UN climate report has made abundantly clear, developing more sustainable solutions is a no-brainer. Yet, NNNN says it still experiences challenges with businesses that choose traditional solutions over greener alternatives. Therefore, it has been key for the company to both initiate and join conversations, both nationally and internationally, with regard to sustainable development in the live entertainment industry.

In spite of Covid, a lot has been happening at NNNN in the past year:
▶ The company has been developing new products, making better and more sustainable audio solutions available for green buildings, houses of culture, and consumers.
▶ In November 2020, NNNN won the Green Founder award – an initiative established by Drammen Rotary to accelerate green and sustainable development in the region.
▶ NNNN has been Eco-Lighthouse certified, which is the most widely used environmental certification scheme in Norway, verified to hold the quality and standard matching international eco-labeling schemes (EMAS and ISO 14001).
▶ The company also became an associate member of A Greener Festival.

Tait is continuing to build dedicated resources to empower clients and design teams to call on its vast library

Tait
During 2020 and into 2021, Tait focused on updating its library of assets, making all assets available for use globally and throughout the business.

This builds on practices that the company has developed over many years and optimises sustainable use and reuse of equipment.

Crucially, this also reduces reliance on virgin materials. In addition, Tait is continuing to build dedicated resources to empower clients and design teams to call on this vast library of existing components.

This year, Tait’s UK offices are beginning the transition to renewable energy, and its waste and recycling streams are being monitored to ensure it maximises recycling potential.

The company’s UK facilities in Neasden and Haverhill are now both ISO14001 accredited, and it has installed infrastructure to collate carbon emissions for Scope 1 & Scope 2 and key elements from Scope 3 globally. This will form the basis for Tait’s carbon reduction strategy.

The group has partnered with organisations such as the Sustainability in Production Alliance (SiPA), Theatre Green Book, and Live Green to help drive industry-wide change, educate teams, and further sustainability efforts.

In order to give back to the communities and institutions that helped build the success of the organisation, Tait’s principal sustainability advocate, Carol Scott, guest lectures at colleges and universities on incorporating sustainable practices into the ecosystem of live events.

 


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IPM 13: If I Could Turn Back Time: Stage production, design and decor

The second panel of the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) began with Coralie Berael, venue manager of Belgium’s Forest National, reflecting on the changing nature of stage production. As both venues and production get bigger, Berael posed the question: Where do we go from here?

From the design side, Mark Ager, managing director of the UK arm of Tait, explained that the main challenge is taking creative content and making it into a reality for touring, adding that it all works best when there is coordination between the artistic, technical and logistical processes.

Production manager Wob Roberts stressed the importance of having final designs as early as possible, to makes the rehearsal period “an efficient machine” and bring down costs.

“The best circumstance is to have a clear idea what a show looks like before going on sale, but that’s idealistic,” said James Walker of the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), explaining that a venue’s role in the chain is not always as valued as it could be. “We need better links with production managers,” said Walker.

Roberts gave the example of a Genesis tour which went on sale before the design came in, leaving insufficient room for the stage. “We had to be really creative to fit into the capacity that had been sold,” said Roberts. “I learned to talk to management as much as possible to avoid similar situations in future.”

Does the audience really require all this production, if tours can sell out before the design has even been done, asked Berael. Roberts explained that the audience has certain levels of expectation for some stadium artists like U2 and Rolling Stones, but not so much for others. However, “the ego can kick in” on the artists’ side, with acts wanting as big a show as their counterparts, “and that’s when the problems start”.

Walker said it would be hard to draw audiences in for a second time without spectacular sets, while Ager stressed the importance of fan engagement, which is challenging in a stadium without big production. “Scale can sometimes outperform the the actors,” said Ager. “The more people you put in front of an artist, the more money they make, so our challenge is how to engage the maximum number of people.”

“You’re actually touring a prototype – and that can go wrong,”

IPM day host Meagan Walker, general manager of Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena asked when is enough, enough? “The bigger we [venues] get, the bigger the show and production gets,” she said.

The panellists also broached the difficulties of loading into certain venues, with local councils imposing restrictions and buying up land around arenas in many city centres. “We need to work together and communicate very early on to avoid the stresses on the day itself,” said Berael.

Is there anything at the design level that can be changed to ease logistics? “We are always trying to minimise building time and think about loading,” said Ager. “But the artist is always going to want to push it further, and I’m not sure how to stop this.”

Ager stated it’s important to remember they venues are often a “tryout” for the shows themselves, but this is changing with many using places like Production Park to test production out.

“You’re actually touring a prototype – and that can go wrong,” reiterated Roberts, saying that it is key for venues to come and look at the production beforehand to pinpoint potential problems and discuss solutions with the production manager.

The issue of liability was also raised, with Roberts stating that it is difficult to get house riggers to sign off on the work they have done. Walker explained that there is a large amount of liability with venues anyway, so there is a degree of nervousness to accept more.

The panel ended with a talk on sustainability. Roberts said that, although he is “unsure whether you can call what we do sustainable”, the entertainment industry is a “great testing ground” for green initiatives.


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Tait expands in Europe with Brilliant Stages acquisition

Tait has acquired Brilliant Stages, the UK-based supplier of staging and design solutions to Coldplay, Take That, Spice Girls, Shawn Mendes and more, for an undisclosed sum.

Tait – founded in 1978 as Tait Towers – designs, constructs, manufactures and operates stages and installations for clients including the Rolling Stones, U2, Taylor Swift and Cirque du Soleil from its HQ in Lilitz, Pennsylvania. The company, minority owned by Providence Equity Partners, in June acquired UK motion-control company Kinesys.

Brilliant Stages (Brilliant Topco Ltd) was established in Wakefield, Yorkshire, 1983 and has also worked with Hugh Jackman, the Dubai Mall and the Virgin Racing Formula 1 team.

Brilliant will remain a standalone brand for the time being, though the “combined management teams see the value of building a global brand” and say “branding decisions will […] be clarified in the coming months”.

“Culturally we are 100% aligned”

Ben Brooks, managing director of Brilliant Stages, says: “We have built the brand brick by brick with an equal focus on spectacle, design, employees and customers. That is what makes being part of Tait a perfect match; culturally we are 100% aligned.”

“This really is a perfect cultural match,” adds Adam Davis, chief creative officer of Tait. “We are excited to share with Brilliant our technology, assets and lessons learned over our 40 years in the live event business. We found a true partner in Brilliant and share a deep belief in delivering excellence to our customers and their fans.”

In addition to Tait, Providence Equity Partners’ live events investments include festival operator Superstruct Entertainment, UK venue manager Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and event tech conglomerate Patron Technology.

Brilliant Stages features in IQ’s latest staging feature, ‘Nerves of steel’, in issue 86. Read the digital edition here.

 


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Providence-backed Tait acquires UK’s Kinesys

Tait, the US-based production/staging equipment powerhouse, has acquired Kinesys, a London-based company which designs, manufactures and sells motion-control systems used on shows by the likes of Ed Sheeran, U2 and Garth Brooks.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, unites the “global leaders in entertainment automation”, reads a statement from Tait, which received “major” investment from Providence Equity Partners, the parent company of festival operator Superstruct Entertainment and technology firm Patron (Greencopper, Marcato), in February.

Tait core offering centres on Tait Navigator, an automation/show-control platform used to control machinery, lighting, audio, pyro, fountains and other special effects for live shows, while Kinesys’s Elevation, Libra and Apex product lines – used by venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House – are among the most-used solutions for modular automation (ie controlling hoists, winches and scenery and lighting rigs).

Post-merger, the companies will link together their automation technologies and Kinesys will offer Tait products via its global distribution network.

“offering the power of both Kinesys and Tait to our customers creates a market-leading platform”

“I have long admired the amazing work that the team at Tait have delivered over the years,” comments Dave Weatherhead, CEO of Kinesys. “From groundbreaking touring shows to epic installations, they really have earned their reputation for quality and innovation. Being able to bring that magic to our Kinesys family of customers and rental partners is exciting.

“This will take the choice of automation available to every tour, production and venue to a whole new level. By sharing our respective experiences and expertise we can bring extraordinary solutions to an expanded customer base in integrated and affordable packages.”

Adam Davis, chief creative officer of Tait, adds: “Kinesys’s success in show control and automation products is unparallelled. We believe that offering the power of both Kinesys and Tait to our customers creates a market-leading platform. Together, Tait and Kinesys will continue to develop cutting-edge automation technology, to focus on our core client bases and to provide the highest level of excellence and service to our customers.”

 


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Providence invests in Tait Towers

Providence Equity Partners, the parent company of festival operator Superstruct Entertainment and event tech company Patron Technology, has invested in Tait, which designs and supplies concert touring infrastructure for some of the world’s biggest acts.

Tait – founded in 1978 as Tait Towers – designs, constructs, manufactures and operates stages and installations for a roster of clients that includes the Rolling Stones, U2, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Disney, Universal, Cirque du Soleil and Nike. The company, headquartered in Lilitz, Pennsylvania, but with offices across North America, Europe and Asia, has worked on 17 of the 20 highest-grossing tours of all time.

The investment from funds advised by Providence, terms of which were not disclosed, sees the private-equity firm become a major shareholder in Tait, with the company’s CEO and president, James ‘Winky’ Fairorth, and chief creative officer, Adam Davis, each retaining a “significant” stake.

Fairorth comments: “We are thrilled to partner with Providence to help take us through our next phase of growth. The firm has an impressive track record of investing in businesses that deliver world-class events and experiences. This growth equity investment is a testament to the breadth and depth of Tait’s talented team and unique culture of excellence, which have advanced industry standards and exceeded client expectations for over 40 years.”

“Providence is the ideal partner to help us accelerate our growth initiatives and strengthen our market position,” adds Davis. “We are proud to be a part of the Providence family and look forward to working with them to expand our offering for artists, entertainment companies and corporate brands that consistently turn to Tait for spectacular live experiences.”

“Our investment in Tait is a great fit with Providence’s growing portfolio of … businesses focused on live, out-of-home events and experiences”

In addition to Patron – which recently acquired festival app developer Greencopper and event management outfit Marcato – and fast-growing Superstruct, whose most recent acquisition is Finland’s Flow Festival, Providence’s US$40bn worth of investments include venue operator Ambassador Theatre Group, sports marketing agency Learfield, US football league Major League Soccer and the World Triathlon Corporation, which organises the Ironman championship.

Scott Marimow, managing director of Providence, says: “Tait is regarded as the gold standard in the industry for its differentiated capabilities, global presence, client relationships and track record of delivering the finest live event solutions in the world. The company is also well positioned for sustainable growth from strong, secular trends, as artists, entertainment concepts and brands are spending more on live events and production quality to create memorable experiences that drive heightened consumer engagement and sharing across social media.

“We are excited to partner with such a passionate management team and look forward to working together.”

Michael Dominguez, also MD of Providence, adds: “Over the past four decades, Tait has grown to become an industry leader. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with an outstanding team in order to accelerate the company’s growth and further invest in its vast IP portfolio and technological capabilities, which are applicable across multiple client types and end markets.

“Our investment in Tait is a great fit with Providence’s growing portfolio of category leading businesses focused on live, out-of-home events and experiences that are highly valued in an increasingly digital world, and that continue to benefit from attractive underlying consumer trends.”

 


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