Please welcome our newest members who joined IAVM in December 2017. Thank you for being a part of the association!
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The wildfires that raced across southern California and resulted in hundreds of thousands of charred acres has simmered. For those who helped shelter not just displaced people but animals as well, the memories remain from an event that goes down as the third largest blaze in modern state history.
The Thomas Fire broke out on December 4 in Ventura County and destroyed multimillion-dollar homes and other structures before moving north along the coast to nearby Santa Barbara County. InVentura, the spread of the fire was too close for comfort for Loanne Wullaert, general manager of the Ventura Theater.
“The fire was just about two blocks away,” Wullaert said on the eve of a pre-Christmas Holiday sing-along that took place on December 22 to provide needed items and Christmas gifts to families that lost their homes. “We are at the bottom of the hillside, where there is us, a Starbucks, and a parking lot. The fire burned right down to that. It sort of hit the road and came very close to City Hall and an area where a lot of historical houses are.”
Wullaert said that donations flooded in for the sing-along to help make a season of stress and uncertainty a bit more bearable.
“We had all kinds of toys donated to us and I had like 200 Christmas stockings to give to families,” she said. “The sing-along was mostly people who work here. They dress up and a lot of kids come. Maybe it helps people forget they lost their house for just a while. The show was for the entire community but to benefit the families that have suffered through this.”
At the Del Mar Fairgrounds in nearby San Diego County, CEO/General Manager Tim Fennell opened his doors to take in more than 1,000 horses, along with goats, pigs, sheep, and donkeys.
“We got word of the wildfires and horses needing to be evacuated,” Fennell said. “About 250 of them were actually thoroughbreds from a training facility where half of it burned down and 46 horses were killed. We were up and running in about a week as an evacuation site. The majority of the horses have now moved out, and the ones that remain are the thoroughbreds. The training facility is using the fairgrounds as a training site as we speak and will be through the immediate future until they get back up and running.”
Fennell recalled that the Del Mar Fairgrounds took in more than 1,000 horses in 2003 from another major wildfire and yet another in 2007 when 2,600 large animals and 2,200 people took shelter at the venue.
“We were a major evacuation site for a good 10 days,” he said. “We don’t wait for people to designate us (as a shelter-in-place location). Since 2007 we made an agreement with the county that we would become an official evacuation site. But, again, even with that designation, we don’t wait for somebody to tell us to pull the plug. We just do it. It’s the right thing to do. We don’t worry about getting paid. We worry about taking care of the animals and the people.”
Wullaert and Fennell said that some events had to be moved on their respective calendars, but that there were no major disruptions.
“We were taking horses in on Thursday (December 7) and still had a holiday party that evening,” Fennell said. “That weekend we had a major sellout country and western concert in our arena. Was it an inconvenience? Probably so, but it’s what we do and we still continued to do our other events. We did the concert and had a gun show. We didn’t skip a beat. I have to applaud our team here and a lot of volunteers from the community. It was a huge community effort and very successful.”
For Wullaert, the wildfires brought back a very recent reminder of another natural disaster — Hurricane Harvey.
“When Harvey hit, I decided I wanted to take dog food to Texas,” she said. “I put a post on Facebook saying that I wanted to do that. The community brought trucks of dog food, clothes, and hygiene products. We took trucks and drove to Texas and when I got back the entire community here had filled the theater with so many donations that we had to get a semi to take it all to Port Arthur, Texas.
“That was just in September. When this happened the community responded so fast because it hit home. We had kind of a practice with Harvey. Everybody already knew what kinds of things people needed, so the response was great.”
Wullaert has been at her venue since 1997, and prior to that resided in Santa Barbara when a wildfire broke out there.
“They have lifted all the evacuations so everyone can go home now,” she said. “There are still hot spots that they will be dealing with this month, but the imminent threat is gone. It was terrible how many fires happened at the same time. The Del Mar one was brutal because of the horses. That was a very quiet moment when we heard about that.”
Wullaert said that her staff went to the Fairgrounds the first night of the fire to help evacuate the animals. “To see all the horses and animals they brought in and then you turn around and see the entire hillside right behind you in flames … it was definitely a shock.”
Through it all, the human response of helping those in need shined brightly, something public assembly venues handle very well. The needy are no longer strangers, but human beings needing help. The response is not just restricted to a community aiding a community, either, but a state helping a state, as Wullaert made clear.
“The 805 (area code) loves Texas,” she said. “I cried so much when I came home and saw all the donations for Texas.”
Texas has cried back for California.
Highly respected international entertainment and sports business executive Douglas Waller has been appointed to as Chief Operating Officer at the AEG Ogden-managed Dubai Arena, where his primary focus will be on the commercial and partnerships side of the business.
In announcing the appointment, Dubai Arena Chief Executive Guy Ngata said that Waller “brings significant experience at the highest levels of commercial partnerships negotiations and finance management to the venue.”
As a Vice President at International Management Group (IMG) for the past three years, Waller has worked closely with the organizers of the Expo 2020 Dubai to develop and execute a highly successful global sponsorship program. Prior to that appointment, Waller served as the head of Sponsorship and Licensing for the International Cricket Council (ICC) in Dubai for five years where he was responsible for the sale of commercial rights and management of ICC’s key commercial relationships.
“Doug’s commercial experience and leadership in the sports and entertainment space together with his thoughtful decision making and proven leadership makes him a tremendous acquisition for the Dubai Arena team,” Ngata said. “In addition, his 10 years’ experience working and living in Dubai has given him a sound understanding of the local culture, not to mention a strong business network.”
Waller is looking forward to his new role and to be joining the AEG international family, from the beginning of 2018. “The entertainment and sports worlds are changing rapidly and the Dubai Arena will be a clear choice for new and exciting properties looking to enter or expand their presence in the MEA region,” he said. “The arena offers residents and visitors to Dubai a world class environment to experience live entertainment and sport, befitting a progressive and global city like Dubai. Through its sponsorship, digital media and hospitality offerings, the arena provides the Middle East business sector with an attractive asset for developing brand recognition and customer engagement. I am very excited to be joining a highly experienced leadership team that will support MERAAS in delivering this world-class facility to the people of Dubai and the entertainment capital of the Middle East.”
AEG Ogden will operate the 17,000-seat Dubai Arena on behalf of Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company committed to creating and delivering unique experiences. It is part of AEG Ogden’s growing network in the Asia Pacific region which includes arenas in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Newcastle and three in China, convention centers with entertainment theatre inclusions in Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Kuala Lumpur, and Oman, plus the 52,000-seat Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, and will be a valued addition to AEG Facilities’ family of 150-plus iconic venues worldwide.
Angela Vanderwell was named as the new General Manager of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City and Associate Division Director for the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts.
“The Eccles Theater is the anchor of the Salt Lake Cultural Core and our region’s premier arts and entertainment venue,” Vanderwell said. “I am honored to lead our team as we develop and streamline our operations and provide continued excellent customer service to presenters and patrons alike.”
The venue opened in October 2016 and has already hosted more than 250 events and 500,000 patrons.
Eccles Theater houses the 2,500-seat Delta Performance Hall, the 150-seat Regent Street Black Box, the McCarthey Plaza, two patron lounges, and the in-house Encore Bistro.
Vanderwell has been at the Center for the Arts for 12 years as an event manager and has 20 years of event and venue experience. She recently earned her IAVM Certified Venue Professional designation, is working toward her Certified Facilities Executive certification, and is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee.
Allied Member Schuler Shook recently announced three company promotions of designers as well as the introduction of their newest team member. All demonstrate a stellar commitment to our clients and show leadership through example.
Harold “Chip” Ulich, ASTC, Senior Theatre Consultant
Chip Ulich, ASTC, moved from the Dallas office of Schuler Shook to California where he helped grow the San Francisco Bay office. He has planned and designed scores of theatres in the West and Southwest U.S. Dedicated to service in the field of theatre consulting, he is the Vice President of the American Society of Theatre Consultants. Current and recent projects include Crested Butte Center for the Arts in Colorado, Oklahoma State University McKnight Center for the Performing Arts and Austin ISD Performing Arts Center.
Kent Conrad, ASTC, Senior Theatre Consultant
Kent Conrad, ASTC, enhances his theatre consulting work in the San Francisco Bay office with a deep background in technical theatre. He served as production manager for multiple regional theatres and for UCLA’s department of Theatre, Film and TV, and he consulted on two venues in Tokyo for Walt Disney Entertainment. He sees each project from multiple perspectives and is a trusted collaborator and advocate. Kent’s projects include Stanford Memorial Auditorium and Pigott Theatre Rigging, Salt Lake Community College Center for Film and New Media, and Tokyo DisneySea – Broadway Music Theatre.
Jess Baker, Project Lighting Designer
Jess Baker, IES Associate Emerging Professional, is based in Schuler Shook’s Chicago office. A crossover talent with a technical theatre background as well as architectural lighting design experience, Jess combines active listening skills with painstaking thoroughness to bring client’s visions to life. Recent and current projects include American University Beirut Medical Center, JPMorgan Chase Polaris Hub, and The Hyatt Headquarters.
Jean Gonzalez, Theatre Specialist
Jean joins the Dallas office of Schuler Shook as a Theatre Specialist. A trained scenic and lighting designer for the theatre, Jean combines a keen eye for detail with a strong belief in the benefits of collaboration to create theatres that support the artists and the audiences. He used to bowl semi-professionally and would adopt any dog he meets, if he could.