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Making Automated Rigging a Consideration in Church Construction
By: Ted Paget

Today's church uses an unprecedented range of audio, visual, and theatrical technologies to enhance the worship experience. These tools have altered the liturgical presentation style and supplanted more traditional worship forms among congregations. Before you begin construction, consider equipping your church with these technologies, keeping in mind your future growth.

Automated rigging is an advancement that enables reliable and efficient changes in the future.
Installing automated rigging opens the door to endless opportunities for churches of all sizes. It facilitates the ability to greatly enhance worship services from the simple to the advanced, whether to assemble a full stage house or to move banners, decorative elements, lighting, and drapery.

Permanently installed automated rigging reduces the "bullwork" during changeovers, requiring less time and usually fewer workers. The additional rigging capability encourages greater production design flexibility and more creative scenic/decorative effects.

 Many churches rely on volunteers to operate equipment, so automated rigging can be a more secure option than others. However, remember there are always risks associated with any activity that moves objects overhead. None of the rigging options noted in this article is intended to raise or lower performers. Flying performers is a specialized technology that should only be done by and under the supervision of qualified technicians.

Deciding which rigging system is needed can be a difficult process. There are a number of issues to consider, such as safety, reliability, efficiency, and craftsmanship. Every project is unique with its own set of needs and limitations.

That's why there are professionals to assist in church construction. Three levels of professionals are available. A local rigging dealer is a great place to start.

Second, there are a number of architect and engineering firms that have a large portfolio of worship facilities. However, be sure their experience matches the church's needs.

Third, consider engaging a theatre consultant who has expertise in the design and equipping of worship facilities, particularly if productions are a major part of the program.

When equipping a new worship facility with rigging, there are several options to consider. During the initial programming through the completion of schematic design and fundraising, it's important for the design and engineering team to clearly understand the church's vision for the facility. The infrastructure must fit the church's needs. At this stage, the church committee plays an integral role.

Early decisions are easier to make when all the stakeholders have a common vision. Prepare by developing a list of activities the church has hosted over the past few years. If the current worship space has a rigging system, describe the positives as well as the negatives in using it for productions.

Once the church is under construction, look at the status of the fundraising and other contingencies to determine which systems and what levels of systems your church can accommodate. Be sure not to sell yourself short on the capital investment or you'll pay one way or another with limited activities and/or expensive changeovers. At the very least, the building should be engineered to support the weights imposed by lighting, sound, video, and especially scenery used in today's productions with an allowance for future growth where possible. Get the right building for your ministry form and your worshippers' needs. If necessary, permanent rigging equipment can be retrofitted later when the ongoing cost of mounting productions becomes great enough to warrant the investment and the church is ready to make the investment.

Ted Paget has been in the theatre industry for more than 30 years. He is the regional sales manager for the Central USA Region at Vortek, a division of Daktronics, www.vortekrigging.com.

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