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Formal Qualifications for Stage Design and Construction.

Andy Robertson

The music festival industry is responsible for the creation and construction of some of the most impressive stage set designs. For anyone interested in getting into this line of work what are the formal qualification options available and what can they expect from a career in this specialised field. 

The artisans that create designs for music festival stages and associated themes continue to wow festival-goers every year with increasingly wild and outlandish constructions. The professionals working in this industry are involved in every aspect of design drawing, evolving the construction of ground plans, selection of stage or set spaces, prop creation, model making, scenery creation culminating in an overall appearance for the stage. Whether it’s the role of designer, art director or one of the many artisan’s skills someone is interested in there is probably a formal qualification that can be studied. Any qualifications are just the start to a career and it's the subsequent work experience that is crucial to getting ahead in this field of work.

Formal Qualifications. 
For students in the UK one of the most well-respected places of study is the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. They have an excellent choice of courses including the BA (Hons) Design for Theatre and Screen course that covers the creation of dynamic environments, costumes and props for the stage, film and television. This course also includes a work placement of a year to help prepare students for work. For more choice prospective students can look at Wimbledon College of Arts (University of the Arts London) who offer BA (Hons) in Technical Arts for Theatre and Performance making life-sized props, animatronics and prosthetics for film and theatre. In addition, they have BA (Hons) in Theatre Design for set and costume design plus video projection, lighting and sound design. Outside the UK consider some of the top schools in the industry like Savannah College of Art and Design (USA) who work closely with film and studio companies in nearby Atlanta.

Work Experience.
Many of the institutions providing formal qualifications work closely with industry figures who are keen to promote skills in young up and coming students. The courses often include a work placement element that help to develop skills learnt in the classroom and in the UK organisations that regularly accept work placement students include:  

  • BBC.
  • ITV.
  • Propshop.
  • Hothouse.
  • Pinewood Studios.
  • Evolution.
  • The Royal Opera House.
  • The National Theatre.

Any contact with people in real work environments provides opportunities for undergraduates to network and make contacts with experienced professionals who can help with career progression after qualification.

Career Prospects.
Depending on the specialism selected graduates could become self-employed or end up working for an established studio or design agency with clients in the music festival sector. For those aiming for art direction roles some larger festival organisations employ small in-house teams with a focus on direction and design. The skilled artisans will probably still be outsourced to a contracted studio.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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