As the Venue Management School celebrates its 30th year, we want to urge you to connect with us and share your own personal VMS story for the May/June issue of Facility Manager magazine.
Whether serving as an instructor or going through the school as a student, the Wheeling Feeling and Oglebay experience is one that is unique and special to those who have spent many a June in West Virginia. Formerly the Public Assembly Facility Management School, these last 30 years have seen incredible growth and change in the industry that the school has been on the cutting edge of every year for the students who gather.
While we cannot guarantee that every memory will be able to fit in the May/June magazine, we will do our very best to make it happen. All reflections will appear on a special designated space on the IAVM website, so please be a part of telling the story of VMS.
Do you have a lesson you learned while at the school that has proved invaluable in your career? Tell us that story.
Is there a special fond memory from your time at the school that carries on with you today? Please share.
Do you work at a venue that encourages staff to attend the school to enhance their professional development and to one day carry the powerful CFE designation at the end of their name? We’re all ears.
Are you an instructor who has seen dynamic changes in the school’s curriculum and in the professional level of the students who have attended your classes over the years? We want to know all about it.
Happen to have some VMS pictures you can share for us to use? Send them now.
When you reply (note that is “when” and not “if” so we better hear from you!), please tell us your years of attendance.
We request due to space limitations to keep your submissions to approximately 250-300 words. We will again try to accommodate and urge and encourage your story to share to help celebrate 30 years of the industry’s premier educational school. Send your story by March 10 to R.V. Baugus.
Ask practically anyone involved in the public assembly venue industry about the legacy he or she wishes to leave upon their career and you will often hear the phrase of making a difference in the community and the industry.
The good news is that there is always time to make that exact difference within your association by volunteering to serve on an IAVM committee. If you have not answered the call for volunteers or are still contemplating a decision, please know that IAVM needs your help and that your service will come back and richly reward you with the professional friends you will work aside as well as indeed making that important difference in guiding the future direction of IAVM’s committees and their work.
The March 3 deadline is rapidly approaching for Committee Call for Volunteers. Appointments to board committees will be made by the First Vice Chair, while appointments to management committees will be made by the CEO in consultation with the committee chairs and vice chairs. Volunteers will be notified of their committee assignment by the end of May.
For all the full details on volunteering and a brief form to complete, please click here.
Section Row Seat, LLC has begun operations in Port Orange, Florida earlier this month.
The start-up provides consultancy services in facility operations, vendor and security management, human resources, leadership and training, revenue management, customer communication, and facility planning. Section Row Seat specializes in the management of sport and entertainment venues.
Company founder Jean Ann Bowman is a 20-year industry veteran, having recently served as senior director of guest services for Daytona International Speedway, during the reopening of the $400M Daytona Rising renovation project.
“We aim to create a culture of guest services for organizations. By finding operational efficiencies, improving training, and better managing vendors, we help venues improve the guest experiences,” Bowman said. “We know that venues can struggle to develop consistency and to unify the approach across departments. All the operations and services at venues must work to together to keep guests safe and to enhance guests’ enjoyment of the event.”
Section Row Seat welcomes clients from all sizes of venues. Project scopes may include the procurement of vendors, operational facility reviews, management of staff training programs, and review customer communication. The company website, www.Section-Row-Seat.com, provides detailed information about services and a downloadable company profile.
The following article was originally published by Wenger Corporation on its performing arts blog.
Over three weeks we’re examining security in performing arts centers from different angles: operations, planning and training. Last week we focused on the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. This week we consider planning from the perspectives of a theatre consultant and a security expert.
“I think stadiums, arenas and other large concert or sporting venues are addressing security very well, in every manner they can,” explains Jack Hagler, ASTC, a partner in Schuler Shook’s Dallas office. Schuler Shook’s core practices are theatre planning and architectural lighting design.
Common security measures at stadiums and arenas include keeping vehicular traffic away from pedestrian areas, proactively searching for bombs or other weapons – either in vehicles or on people – and even employing metal detectors to screen audience members upon entry.
But why aren’t many PACs employing such measures? Hagler believes the paradigm is different. A popular music concert or sporting event in an arena typically attracts a younger audience; those events have an unfiltered, high-energy feel.
“Performing arts facilities attract a different crowd – even with popular music or a Broadway show,” explains Hagler. “We expect a more formal, refined type of audience.”
He believes it’s difficult for a PAC operator to insist their well-dressed patrons, perhaps fresh from pre-show fine dining, pass through metal detectors and have their belongings searched.
Looking ahead, Hagler expects to see increased security awareness in PAC planning. When contacted recently, Hagler said it’s the sixth design trend he would add, building on the five already cited in his interesting 2015 article.
“Many in the U.S. haven’t yet realized the possibility of terrorism impacting a performing arts center,” contends Hagler. For example, while patron bag searches are discussed, such policies vary widely, both by specific venue and type of entertainment.
He hopes the U.S. never witnesses large-scale attacks like happened in Paris and Moscow in 2015 and 2002, respectively. At the Bataclan theatre massacre in November 2015, 90 audience members at a heavy metal band concert were killed by terrorists.
In the Moscow incident 13 years earlier, Chechen rebels took more than 700 opera patrons hostage in the Dubrovka Theater for over two days, demanding Chechnya’s independence. By the time Russian special forces ended the siege, most of the rebels and 120 hostages had been killed, many by the effects of an unidentified narcotic gas pumped into the building to subdue the attackers.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all risks, proper planning in a PAC’s design stage can help mitigate these dangers.
“Performing arts centers being designed today must consider not only the guest-service experience, but how their facility’s design enhances safety and security,” explains Mark Herrera, IAVM Director of Education. A former S.W.A.T. leader and Department of Homeland Security advisor, he leads the association’s education and outreach efforts.
Just because the public is unaware of security plans and design features at PACs doesn’t necessarily mean those plans and features don’t exist. One important element is known as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design.
“We never want to give the threat our playbook,” notes Herrera. He advises architects and facility planners to design structures with crime prevention in mind and to create environments that positively impact human behavior.
One key design factor is natural access control points for patrons to enter and exit the facility, without it resembling a foreboding structure like Fort Knox. Herrera says that even buildings constructed 15 or 20 years ago can take retrofit steps through environmental design, such as adding decorative planters or benches that enhance aesthetics while also preventing a vehicle breach.
A second key design factor is natural surveillance opportunities for staff and security personnel, including outside law enforcement. This ensures that large crowds can be easily monitored by staff, yet the same crowd is safely inside a perimeter and shielded from potentially harmful surveillance or dangerous violence.
More than any specific architectural feature, Herrera believes security in performing arts centers starts with education. “We’re being very proactive with these facilities to ensure they receive the best training and information on mitigating risks,” he says.
Herrera has been asked if it’s possible to over-train on security, which might send a message that a facility has problems or issues that need attention. He strongly disagrees.
“When you train your personnel, you’re programming the subconscious part of the mind to make the unknown familiar – like storing information in a database, always available for recall,” explains Herrera.
When the mind is conditioned to notice unusual activity and given a plan of action, the proper response objective is carried out instinctively and without hesitation.
He also compares the repetition of training to shaking someone else’s hand. “You don’t have to aim or guide your hand, or even think about it – you just shake it like you’ve done thousands of times before,” Herrera adds. “Training needs to be like this, both instinctive and automatic.”
Herrera considers training like an “environmental inoculation” – analogous to a flu shot providing immunity to influenza. He concludes, “Training gives small doses of the ‘disease’ that helps strengthen immunity against various adverse conditions.”
The following article was originally published by Wenger Corporation on its performing arts blog.
Over the next three weeks, we’ll examine security in performing arts centers from three different angles: operations, planning and training. This week we’ll focus on safety procedures and practices at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.
“Because we are such a soft target, we place a lot of day-to-day emphasis on security, says Russell Read, CFE, CMP. He’s Vice President of Operations with the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas, which includes the 2,300-seat Winspear Opera House, 600-seat Wyly Theatre, 2,000-seat amphitheater, two parking garages and a ten-acre park.
Read believes there is not much planning for security in performing arts center design today, even after 9/11 or the Paris Bataclan concert hall attack in 2015. “It’s up to the PAC operator to develop security measures,” Read explains, noting that his facility is very flexible. Security protocols are adjusted based on perceived risk, with each show carefully evaluated.
“We may change our plans if former President Bush and Laura Bush are attending the opera here,” he notes. “If we’re just doing a regular Broadway show, we may relax a little bit.
“Do I wish I was a stadium where everyone was patted down and only clear bags were allowed inside?” Read asks. “Yes, absolutely! The stadium guys have it easy.”
When the AT&T Center opened in 2009, Read recalls the state’s “open carry” laws allowed visitors to carry firearms. He remembers hosting a concert by “Weird Al” Yankovic where eight Star Wars stormtroopers showed up – toting real weapons!
While an open-carry building, Read had to tell his staff this hard truth: an active shooter scenario would be the only time he would advise them to run away from danger and not worry about their patrons.
“Law enforcement personnel in Texas, like many other states, are trained to shoot anybody with a weapon in an active shooter situation,” Read explains. “So a well-intentioned patron pulling his or her own weapon just becomes another target.”
Read’s facility, advised by legal counsel, later joined with other Texas public assembly facilities in objecting to the law; the attorney general ruled in their favor.
To help with early risk assessments for any event, Read values the insights of peers. He cites a well-known industry adage: There are only 15 people – we just keep changing jobs. “It’s more true than anybody really knows,” Read says. “If you’re running a PAC and you’re not in the network, shame on you, because we’re a family.”
Even managers at competing facilities share information about past shows and experiences. “I’m always open to anyone calling me about a show we’ve done,” declares Read. “I’ll always be there for them.”
Read says safety probably occupies 30 percent of his time, yet impacts his thought processes for everything he does, including donor relations. (Numerous private donors raised 95 percent of the facility’s $350 million cost.) He also works closely with the facility’s Director of Security.
Crowd Manager Training
Read says the NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] codifying a trained crowd manager program into its life safety rules has been a major security change he’s seen in the industry; Read’s a big supporter.
When his facility opened, all staff who touched the public were trained as crowd managers. That education program keeps evolving today, extending to other scenarios like fire, tornado or active shooter.
This training includes front-of-house briefings for every show: spending 2-5 minutes on some relevant topic, whether severe weather or what the local police are hearing.
Large-scale training like CPR, is done quarterly and Read considers this part of customer service. “If one of our patrons is harmed in any way, that’s obviously terrible customer service,” he notes. Campus-wide, the staff numbers around 45 people plus 65 volunteers.
“We’re constantly updating our training, evaluating new and different threats,” explains Read. For example, this winter they incurred extra security cost for the annual holiday lights street festival. Police cars and dump trucks cordoned off any route where a vehicle could possibly harm the crowd. This was in response to the tragedy in Berlin, Germany, where a truck targeted pedestrians at a Christmas market.
“We’re doing our best to keep up with world events and the next potential threat,” Read notes. “That’s what’s changed the most for us over the last few years.
Being so attuned to safety, Read says it’s impossible for him to ever completely relax at any venue. “I cannot attend an event with my wife; I drive her absolutely insane,” he notes. “I’m always looking for the exits, assessing the security measures in place, looking at the suspicious package that’s just a leftover box of programs or looking at the man wearing the trench coat in 98-degree heat.”
He claims this happens everywhere, but especially at his own building. “My wife attends events here – but only with her friends!” Read concludes.