ABTT Virtual Ideas Platform

“ABTT VIP” – Charles Haines, Concept Developer and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Head of Performance Venues

A few years ago during a trip to the excellent USITT [US Institute of Theatre Technology] Trade Show, I saw their ‘Innovations Gallery’ in operation and fell in love with the concept.

An informal introduction service between independent creative innovators and the commercially minded developers behind our leading brands, products and services.

Every year, the USITT staged the gallery with ideas farmed from all of the collegiate universities and drama educational establishments – with the ‘top 10’ put on display at the annual show.

All of the USITT members and visitors go through the gallery, making network connections and occasionally recruiting or arranging internships with the bright sparks showing their creativity. US staging engineering and lighting CEO’s sift through the output and some of the ideas even make it into production as actual catalogue products or find funding for commercial development.

As a marketing guy looking for smart ideas I could develop, it seemed a highly fertile ground for meeting creative and inventive people who got a kick out of solving techie problems with neat ‘stage fixes’. I was damn sure the UK would have equally talented technicians looking for a step up and some support…….and the ABTT “Industry Support Group” members [of which I was one] would be ideally placed to benefit from some extra R&D Innovations.

Later, over a cocktail or two, I discussed the idea with a contact from Guildhall School of Music & Drama about creating a UK version – and he agreed it was an exciting idea and ‘had legs’. One of his recent graduates had come up with a clever solution to an LX rigging problem at Guildhall School, which he thought would be an ideal illustration of how it might work. [It did – it was developed, manufactured and installed in the photos on this page if you look carefully]

On our return to the UK, we set up a meeting with the ABTT – and they thought it was a great idea too. Time went by while the idea fermented….then 2019 and COVID happened – and the world had a rethink about tradeshows.

Now it’s 2021 and I’m now at Guildhall School as Head of Performance Venues, surrounded by technical innovation and enthusiasm, desperate for a wider more far-reaching platform. The timings and technology are now perfectly aligned and we’ve adjusted the pilot year concept to an online format which will develop into a regular feature of the ABTT calendar.

Over to you – and “welcome” to the Platform…..