UCOL | Te Pūkenga Manawatū is set to launch a new entertainment and event technology programme to help budding lighting and sound technicians develop their skills.
The New Zealand Certificate in Entertainment and Event Technology (Level 4), starts on 7 August 2023.
The programme covers the general practices, processes, and protocols of the entertainment and event technology industry, with a focus on lighting and live sound.
The programme will combine in-class and online learning with work placements with event companies and theatres.
The Regent on Broadway, Globe Theatre, and Centrepoint Theatre will all provide students with work placement opportunities and the chance to shadow their technicians behind the scenes of shows and events. UCOL will also be using these venues and their equipment for teaching.
"Essentially, the city's theatres are our classrooms," says the programme lecturer Talya Pilcher.
Pilcher says the programme is great for anyone looking to get their start as an event technician or people who have experience in an amateur capacity but need training to take their skills to a professional level.
"The programme is also great for people who have done some crew work in the industry and want to upskill quickly, because there is a shortage of trained technicians."
"Our graduates will be great candidates for junior positions in venues around the country and crew work in the big centres. With our lighting strand, we're really focusing on producing programmers who can use several different consoles which are commonly used around the country."
Pilcher brings over 20 years of industry experience to the classroom, specialising in lighting, staging, pyrotechnics, and event management. Career highlights for her include overseeing lighting design for Mamma Mia at the St James Theatre in Wellington, and That Bloody Woman and Misery for Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North. She also worked on Dancing with the Stars at Avalon TV Studios.
"I fell in love with this kind of work, particularly lighting, while helping out on a production at secondary school.
For me, it is the combination of the climbing and working with tools, the precision required when you're programming lighting, and the overall art of painting with light. I enjoy that feeling of coming home after a good day's work when I'm tired but feel that I've produced something cool."
"This industry suits people who are good at solving problems. Teamwork is key, because there will be times when things happen on the job and you need to work together to find solutions."
"In terms of lifestyle, some people work in a particular venue or location, while others move from project to project around the country, which can be a pretty exciting life especially when you're young."
Regent on Broadway General Manager David Walsh welcomes the programme and believes it will be a great opportunity for students to develop an understanding of event technology processes and gain real-world experience before embarking on their careers.
"There are not a lot of education providers teaching entertainment and event technology, so it's great to have an institute in Palmerston North that will produce new theatre technicians."
"There is a variety of jobs in the industry that people could end up in depending on their interests. For example, you could be someone who enjoys the packing in and setting up of events, or you could be into sound or lighting design. There is something for everyone."
Photo credit: Antoine Boissonot