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Lighting & Staging Solutions for Multipurpose Rooms
By: Kevin Shetterly and Ted Ross

Your church's multipurpose room can function as your gymnasium, fellowship hall, performance space, or a worship arena. This versatility translates into a lower construction cost per square foot, an eye-opening revelation for congregations struggling to save every penny.

There are challenges, however, with meeting the demands of different users who need the space to function in many different ways.

One of the most challenging functions is when you want your multipurpose room to be used as a performance space. A typical performance space requires special lighting, curtains, and a raised platform for good site lines, limiting its ability to be used for anything else.

This can make it difficult to justify the expense of a "traditional stage" layout, and it can be an agonizing decision for the church that understands the importance of the performing arts in delivering the word of God.

Churches have witnessed the overall enrichment of the worship experience and have seen the benefits provided to their youth ministries through the development of their public speaking skills, team development, and just plain fun involved with the performance.

A retractable stage—complete with portable raised platforms, operable curtains, and stage lighting—can be an answer to this dilemma. When it is not being used as a performance platform, it can be stored within a pocket, so the space can be reclaimed for other uses.
For example, a 24' wide by 16' deep retractable stage was just the answer for Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek, California. In 2008, the church broke ground on its long-awaited Bortin Fellowship Hall. This multipurpose room will be a perfect place to introduce non-members to the church by providing a gathering place for meetings, performances, dinners, and receptions. In addition, it can be rented to outside groups, providing a source of income for the church.

There was a very strong desire in the congregation for a fully functional theatrical stage. To meet all these needs within a budget, the facility had to provide maximum flexibility and utilize every square foot of space. There might be a coffee reception in the morning, a musical performance in the afternoon, and a dinner that evening.
Newell Arnerich, principal of AD Architects and the design architect for the project, found the solution to these challenges with a retractable stage platform. This complete stage system can roll out of its 5'to 6" deep storage alcove and be set up in minutes, thus transforming an open reception area into a beautiful worship or performance space.

"The building committee had significant concerns as to whether we could afford to dedicate the space a permanent stage would require and was seriously considering eliminating a stage from the project, which would have been quite a disappointment for the congregation," said Peter Kappelhof, co-chair of the building committee. "When Newell presented us with the retractable stage, we instantly recognized it as the perfect solution for the diverse uses we planned for the building."

There is also the added flexibility of using the stage platforms independent of the retractable proscenium frame, in different configurations and in different locations. The versatility greatly enhances the value of the building as a rental space — a much-needed source of income for this particular congregation.

This concept is nothing new, as hundreds of schools, churches, and community centers use a retractable stage platform. The versatility, ease of operation, and low maintenance costs make it extremely attractive when budgets are tight and expectations are high.

"Our retractable stage and lighting may be 10 years old, but it looks like new," Merrit Holub, principal of St. John Fisher School in Portland, Oregon, said. "The ease of set up and take down helps facilitate easy transitions for our various programs. We use the stage, on average, three times a year for large performances featuring up to 120 students at one event. The size of the stage is perfect for performances, while allowing ample space in our gym for spectators or physical education class use of the remaining gym while the stage is set up."

Brian Miskimins, facilities manager for St John Fisher School said, "For 10 years, our retractable stage has been virtually maintenance free, working like a charm every time we need to set it up. We use our stage for school musicals, talent shows, church functions-…you name it. When the night of the performance comes, you would guess that you are entering a professional auditorium, not a gymnasium that has been transformed to an auditorium. The beauty of it is that, by the next morning, it is a gymnasium again, allowing the physical education class to carry on as normal."
Additional stage lighting, from follow spots to suspended lighting pipes, along with audio reinforcement, can easily be added to further enhance the needs of the venue.

The multipurpose space within your church can be a low-cost option to address the needs of many users. The retractable stage may be your answer to the most challenging functional requirement, the performance space.

Kevin Shetterly is sales manager of Rigging & Draperies and Ted Ross is sales manager of Lighting Products for Stagecraft Industries, www.stagecraftindustries.com.

Product Roundup

Milan from Manning Lighting
Gently curved panels give Manning Lighting's new Milan family a delicate, fragile appearance. Six standard laser-cut panel designs are available, with the option to customize your own design. The diffuser is illuminated by new energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps that last a remarkable 20,000 hours. And, you will brighten your church with a range of downlight options that balance energy efficiency, long life, and high output. The Milan pendant is available in three sizes and is complemented by matching wall sconce and ceiling mount fixtures.

StageRight has been partnering with worship facilities for more than 25 years to bring functional and elegant solutions to your worship spaces. They begin from the design phase to work with your staff to consult and understand the diverse needs of your growing fellowship. They offer services in installation and product training to maximize the investment for the facility.  Their products offer the ability to grow with your congregation to meet both the short-term and long-term goals. Built-in flexibility allows the drama and music ministries to stage any type of service with confidence.

COLORado 1 VW from Chauvet Lighting
The COLORado 1 VW is a wash light for a wide variety of applications that can benefit from variable shades of white, such as houses of worship. The light includes 18 warm and 18 cool long-lasting white LEDs to produce a full range of color temperature options, from 2800K to 7000K. Exact color temperature comes from the onboard calibration setting. The color change options make it suitable as theatrical house lighting. With a long lifespan and very low maintenance requirements, the light can be installed in hard-to-access areas.

SICO Staging Systems
The Dual or Single Height 1800 series from Sico offers all the advantages of a mobile folding stage, plus the added simplicity and speed of built-in height adjustability. The 1800 is designed to be set up and taken down by one person, resulting in considerable savings in time and labor. SICO also offers the Tri-Height stage for even more flexibility. Set up at single level for meeting room stages or head table settings. Set up tiered configurations for seating or choral risers. All SICO stages are easy to set up and take down.

Draper's TorkStar Utility Line Set
Draper's new TorkStar Utility Line Set is designed to raise and lower a wide range of products commonly used on stages or in gymnasiums. TorkStar is an inherently safe, simple lifting system designed for intermittent usage, which can be used to raise and lower lighting, speakers, backdrops, scenery, banners, flags, projection screens, and more. TorkStar eliminates the need for stepladders, scaffolding, or lifts to service or change lamps, filters, or other ceiling-suspended items.

Giotto Digital 1500 from Techni-Lux
Giotto Digital 1500 is a real miracle of technology and design. Key feature is the revolutionary introduction of the Digital Module, which, using a clever application of DLP technology from Texas Instruments, enables the Giotto to project graphic effects with the brightness and speed of professional moving head fixtures. Giotto Digital 1500 is the first moving head fixture able to create all-digital, completely customizable graphic effects, overcoming the typical limits of effects generated by traditional gobo patterns, iris, beam shapers, and zoom components. 

JR1500 from Times Square Lighting
The JR1500 utilizes 150-watt metal halide CDM lamps and sports a compact, attractive housing. This energy-efficient unit projects stock and custom patterns with a beam equal to a 500-watt quartz ellipsoidal. The JR150 is equipped with a lightweight electronic ballast, built-in accessory holder, and locking yoke. It is available in standard black, white and silver finishes. Custom colors are available by request and at an additional charge.

Martin smartMAC
Clever solutions to old problems are what make the Martin smartMAC smart. The smartMAC from Martin is an extremely bright, fanless 150 W profile luminaire offering a number of unique performance and economic benefits, including the ability to reduce operating costs. Appropriately silent for noise-sensitive environments, smartMAC will liven up any space while saving money on power bills and service and maintenance checks. With no dust and pollutants forced into the fixture, lamp life is optimized, service intervals extended (up to 2 years with 9,000 hour lamp), maintenance kept to a minimum, and operation costs reduced.

Dazian is recognized as a leading resource on the West Coast for innovative and high-quality fabrics, drapery rentals, and custom fabrication, along with personalized service. Dazian recently announced its acquisition of ShowBiz Enterprise's Drapery Rental and Fabrication business. ShowBiz has been the West Coast's premier supplier of high-end Rental Draperies including fiber optic and star drop curtains, masking draperies, metallics, sheers, cycs, scrims, and specialty, custom designed fabricated pieces. The combination of the two businesses will provide a large rental drapery inventory.

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Religious Product News