Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May
BY BOB CHERNY
FOLLOWING THE FACILITY’S RULES
Read venue guidelines carefully; they can affect your
Each venue has its idiosyncrasies, which often include rules on
what planners can and cannot arrange for a function, especially
regarding high-tech productions. These facility-use guidelines
obtuse documents at best can impact a technical budget in ways that
are not always obvious.
Many of the rules are based on safety concerns and are often the
result of accidents or injuries. Some are based on the facility
staff’s interpretation of government regulations. Ignorance of the
guidelines can result in costly last-minute changes.
IN THE RAFTERS
Rigging restrictions are complex. Many facilities prohibit rigging
equipment not made in their country. This is based, in part, on the
concern that if a foreign part fails, bringing legal action is
Rigging rules also determine who is allowed to attach equipment
to ceilings. The rigging company will want a detailed floor plan of
your event to match to accurate drawings of the rooms and details
about weight limitations. For best results, get the computerized
room drawings from the rigging company and then plan your event.
These files come in several formats, but the best are in a drafting
program format like AutoCAD and not in a graphics format like
Photoshop. Drawings that come in sales kits rarely are detailed
enough, and those small enough to be faxed are little better.
Facility drawings done by hand are immediately suspect.
IN THE ATMOSPHERE
Fog and haze rules vary based both on the type of fire control
equipment in a room and the quality of the carpet on the floor.
There are several different types of theatrical haze. No one type
is accepted in all areas. One way to control the expense of the
fire watch frequently required when haze is in use is to have the
cost applied to the lighting vendor’s fixed bid bill and not to the
Lasers are subject to both federal and local regulations. Laser
companies tend to be good about the federal regulations but might
not know who to call about local ordinances. If lasers are part of
the plan, large volume water sources, drains and ample power will
be necessary in addition to special permits. Vehicles, forklifts
and scissor lifts all present their own challenges. Availability,
permissible types, certification of drivers and even restraint
harnesses are all issues. Failure to abide by the guidelines can
stop work in critical areas.
Labor rules are a special category. Some labor contracts extract
penalties for schedules that include nights or weekends. In view of
this, getting a room early, on a Sunday, could increase your labor
budget instead of decreasing it.
Several unions may be involved in bringing a single piece of
equipment from the truck into the venue.
Sometimes it is advantageous to feed the technical crew instead
of having them break and go away for meals. However, some unions
consider a cold buffet inadequate and may charge a meal penalty in
spite of having been fed. Long rehearsals without breaks
significantly increase labor costs due to meal penalties. The more
technically challenging the event, the more likely union issues
will be a concern, but do not assume a small event will have no
issues. Ask questions and get the unions’ rule books.
Organize the detailed technical information needed to ensure a
successful event into a single package that can be readily copied
and distributed to all your vendors. Knowing what information you
have provided them can be a great help when event-related
challenges arise. You will be able to demonstrate that the errant
vendor had the information. Questions asked early prevent costly
changes later.Bob Cherny is operations manager for Paradise Sound and
Light, a production company in Orlando.
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