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Why School Governors Are Ignored Too......

Ken Coker

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Recently there was a thread along the lines of "Why do schools buy crap....?"


PaulE wrote a very good response and I was in the process of adding my bit when I decided that what I was writing was pretentious rubbish and didn't post it.....broadly it was along the lines of what a jolly good job governors did and how lucky schools were to have them. (I am the link governor for music at my local secondary school.)


We are in the process of fitting out a brand new music block. It's six months late opening, but it was under water for a few months last year. Inevitably it is over budget, but about three months ago I was asked for some opinions on it and the lighting rig that had been specified. The following is part of what I wrote:


KC: My overview is that this is a somewhat old fashioned approach to stage lighting, centred as it is on the notion of a fixed performance area; it is very much envisaged that the space will be used flexibly despite the imposition of the hydraulic platform. Some of the lighting equipment I would myself not specify - most notably the floodlights. I would prefer these to be replaced by other luminaires. It needs to be specified whether the profile instruments are zoom or fixed focus - zoom would be preferable in the space. There is an argument for including some 500w PAR can luminaires in the spec. Students will expect to be able to light rock gigs. I woukd also be interested in the build quality of the instruments specified; I would like to see a demonstration of the LDR instruments and the applicable photometric data.


KC: Perhaps, not suprisingly, no provision for moving/intelligent light has been made. HVC owns four MAC 250w Krypton luminaires, and regularly hires or borrows other such instruments. The students control these at the moment using Vista software or by a freeware DMX software system. Students are clearly, therefore, accustomed to using moving lights and would expect to be able to use them as part of an integrated system. While not my favourite desk, the Jester ML would appear to fit the bill.


This morning - term finishes next Tuesday - my head of music rings: " They've not supplied any loudspeakers for teaching...and they say they'll feedback any way...oh, and even if they did supply them they'd want to hang them from the ceiling..." I agree to make a meeting on Friday. Some hours later the head of music rings again:


HOM : Er......Ken.....er....I've got a lighting desk here...

KC: That's nice...I don't expect it's a very good one....what is it?

HOM: Don't know, but it's in a very nice flightcase......hang on, I'll open it......mmmmmm, it's a Jester ML24

KC : *******s.....you'd better hide it until Friday.


So....a brand new music block with a hydraulic platform no one wants, a moving light desk which I'm not at all keen on and no loudspeakers for the kids to listen to things on......


I believe I've mentioned hubris before..............




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Will it always be like this? Actually, the same goes for the building contractors and arch.s as well


During the build of our venue, while in the old one, I was brought in as the theatre tech adviser about what would be main requirments of new venue.


So go through the plans - meeting, after meeting to try to make sure I get the following...(aside from the general spec which was designed and approved after some tweaking)


a 63a TPNE and 32a single FOH / hall and on-stage / studio.


Decent get in access and "good sized" shuttered door.


BOTH sets of bleacher seating on motors


switchable hard power up on the grid - not DMX controlled


Rat run under the "pros arch" to allow cables through when "pros" is shuttered off


duplicate control of working lights in the hall - not just in the control room



RESULT - nothing!!!!


REASON - "budget cuts"


Now , some of the less expensive items are being addressd - like the rat run, and going halfway by putting the extra power on-stage level and the hard power in the grid. (due to electrical contractors STILL being on site)


I do wonder why we bother having all these design meetings, if, at the end of the day, everything is going to be written off without any such consultation or "meeting halfway". Im sure now that the cost of this work would have been even less if it had been done during the build, however , the governors etc etc chose to ignore the advice then but now realise they ahoudnt have!


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