The tightrope act of outfitting a high school performance space with new lights is not a task for the weak of heart. Theatre educators in need of new lighting equipment must jump through countless hoops to secure funds, and when they do, the pressure is on to make it count. “You have to make sure that the patrons of the community are happy with the investment, because it’s mostly their money that’s paying for it,” says Tony Travis of Toucan Productions. Based in Oklahoma City, Travis has decades of experience navigating this balancing act between arts educators and their school boards, both as a dealer and as a former theatre educator.
One of the biggest challenges Toucan has faced? Outfitting three separate high school performance spaces based on a spec of only one school. When the Mid-Del School District came to Toucan in need of new lighting equipment for Carl Albert, Midwest City, and Del City High Schools—but with a budget that would only cover a single spec—Travis knew ETC's ColorSource fixtures with wireless Multiverse® technology from City Theatrical was the right solution.
This combination of products has become a frequent go-to for Toucan when outfitting schools. With school arts budgets in flux and spending proposals subject to approval from administrative boards that aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of technical theatre, ColorSource satisfies on both a budgetary and creative level. “You're constantly having to sell an idea to a skeptical audience” Travis says, “It's a matter of justifying to administrators, ‘How or why are we going to spend our money on this type of thing?’” Toucan’s go-to solution for this problem is ETC’s ColorSource line. By using a fleet of ColorSource fixtures controlled by the Multiverse’s wireless DMX technology, each school would be able to add upon their pre-existing Unison systems for a flexible and cost-effective cure-all. “The ColorSource line is always what I end up recommending for its price efficiency and its reliability.”
Toucan made one spec but had to install the systems in three different schools. The auditoriums ended up having major differences between them and it became clear that, had they chosen other equipment for the job, Toucan would have needed to totally reassess their original proposal. But with the flexible wireless technology pairing of ETC’s ColorSource fixtures and City Theatrical’s Multiverse technology, the differences between each space became irrelevant. Saved from the limitations of DMX cables, the ColorSource fixtures could be mounted according to the needs of each school and easily paired with a SHoW Baby wireless transmitter. This solution kept the systems easy to handle for technical theatre students—and even easier on the schools’ budgets.
Travis says that City Theatrical’s Multiverse system has become an indispensable part of the company’s toolbox when working with high schools: “We started using City Theatrical’s Multiverse technology as soon as we could after it was originally released and it’s still the best of its kind.”
Despite the challenges that were met along the way, all three high schools ended up outfitted with a simple yet powerful lighting system with the capacity to grow with them for years to come.