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Tag Archives: 6.26


Theater Safety

Set design model by Marcel Jambon for an 1895 Paris production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello


“We have art in order not to perish from the truth”

— Friedrich Nietzsche


Demand for live events in college towns — what is now called”entertainment content” — is gathering pace; owed somewhat to an older demographic that prefers expanded social interaction to the online entertainment offerings that the younger demographic prefers*.  We see an expansion of the market in the construction of architecturally astonishing buildings; though the effect of the pandemic remains to be seen.

Today our interest lies in the complex safety and sustainability characteristics of the physical infrastructure — with particular interest in the fire protection, environmental air and electrotechnologies required to make them safe and sustainable.   This facility class is far more complicated technologically and operates at significantly higher risk than, say, classrooms or office space.

The Entertainment Services and Technology Association is one of the first names in trade associations that support the ‘business of show business’ through networking, safe practices, education, and representation.  We follow the standards making activity of its technical committees and monitor public commenting opportunities.  ESTA releases markups of its consensus products for public comment at a fairly brisk pace on its standards development landing page:

ESTA Public Review Drafts

ESTA has released redlines open for comment as of this posting.

Powered Rigging Systems

Entertainment Technology – Selection and Use of Personal Fall Arrest Systems on Portable Structures Used in the Entertainment Industry

Standard for Color Communication in Entertainment Lighting

Reporting the Low-End Dimming Performance of Entertainment Luminaires Using LED Sources

Comment deadlines run from June 29th to August 3rd.

You may obtain an electronic copy at the link above, along with a comment form.  Send your comments to Karl Ruling, (212) 244-1505, standards@esta.org with an optional copy to psa@ansi.org).  We encourage our colleagues in school districts and in colleges and universities large and small; with responsibilities for the safety and sustainability of cultural resource properties, media centers, performance venues to participate in the ESTA technical standards development program.

Glorya Kaufman School of Dance / University of Southern California

We keep the ESTA suite on the standing agenda of our Lively Arts teleconference; open to everyone.   See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting.

Since the electrotechnologies are fairly complex we also collaborate with the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee which meets four times per month in European and American time zones.


Issue: [Various]

Category: Electrical, Arts & Entertainment Facilities

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Christine Fischer, Mike Hiler, Nehad El-Sherif



State Capitals And College Towns: A Recipe For Success

Baby Boomers Are Retiring to College Towns

The original University of Michigan codes and standards advocacy enterprise interviewed an ESTA affiliate in 2015:


Audio Standards

“A Dance to the Music of Time” | Nicolas Poussin (1640)


“The voice of the intellect is a soft one,

but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.”

— Sigmund Freud


The education industry provides a large market for occupancy classes — athletic stadiums, student assembly spaces, performance theaters, large lecture halls– that depend upon effective audio systems*.   To an unexpected degree the structural engineering, specification of materials and electrical system design and operation is informed by acoustical considerations.  So does the integration of fire safety and mass notification systems into normal state enterprises so it is wise to follow and, ideally, participate in leading practice discovery and promulgation of audio standards.

The Audio Engineering Society — one of the first names in this space — has a due process platform that welcomes public participation.   All of its standards open for public comment completed their revision cycle mid-November as can be seen on its standards development landing page below:

AES Standards Development

Note that AES permits access to those revision even after the comment deadline.  You are encouraged to communicate directly with the Direct communication with the standards staff at Audio Engineering Society International Headquarters, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1225, New York NY 10176,  Tel: +1 212 661 8528

We keep the AES suite on the standing agenda of our periodic Lively Arts teleconference.  See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting.

This facility class is one of most complex occupancy classes in education facilities industry so we also collaborate with experts active in the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee. Much of the AES suite references, and borrows from, International Electrotechnical Commission system integration and interoperability standards.   The IEEE E&H committee meets online again four times monthly in European and American time zones.  The meeting dates are available on the IEEE E&H website

Media production audio visual

Issue: [19-23]

Category: Electrical, Academic,  Athletics, Fire Safety, Public Safety, #SmartCampus

Contact: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey

*Mass notification systems are governed by NFPA 72 and, while life safety wiring is separate from other wiring, the management of these systems involve coordination between workgroups with different business objectives and training.


Archive / Audio Engineering Society


Lively Arts

Dance of Apollo with the Nine Muses


“We have art in order not to perish from the Truth”

— Friedrich Nietzsche*


Today at 11 AM Eastern time we scan for public commenting opportunities in consensus products that determine the safety, sustainability and value proposition of arts and entertainment facilities on the #SmartCampus.  Enterprises of this nature have evolved quickly in recent years and with it a new professional discipline around “event safety” that slices through a surprising number of codes and standards incorporated by reference into public safety law.

Architectural, engineering, facility planning and design units within academia are welcome to join us in reviewing the blistering pace of code and standard development in this space.   If we are successful you will likely want to tweak your design, construction and O&M documents.  At the very least, time spent with us today offers anticipatory intelligence about expectation in the standard of care, where your competitors may be; or both.

There are a number of open-source consortia we follow, also — particularly in the electrotechnologies that support massive open online curricula units.  This is another fast-moving space, with no shortage of non-profit organizations claiming hegemony over the zietgeist, or some part of it.

Standing Agenda / Lively Arts

*University of Basel

Motion Picture Production

The education industry in every nation provides a locus for community cultural art production, enjoyment and instruction.   It is both a consumer and producer; with the expansion of massive open online curricula drawing from the best practices conveyed from the visual arts.

One of the first names in this space is the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers that support the technical framework and global professional community that makes motion picture, television and professional media available for all humanity to enjoy for artistic, educational and social purposes.  The landing pages for its standards development enterprise are linked below:

SMPTE Standards  

SMPTE Standards Ecosystem

Several titles — all of them involving vocabulary and interoperability — have been released for public comment; available in the link below:

Public Committee Drafts (public CDs)


Comment periods run from 24 July 2020 to 18 March 2021.

We maintain SMPTE consensus products on the standing agenda of our Lively Arts teleconference and our Power & ICT teleconferences.   We also collaborate with the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee which meets 4 times monthly in European and American time zones.  See our CALENDAR for the next online meetings; open to everyone.

Media production audio visual

Issue: [Various]

Category: Academics, Seven Lively Arts Facilities, Electrical, Telecommunication

Contact: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey, Richard Robben


SMPTE Standards Annual Report 2019


Audiovisual Experiences / Learning Outcomes

Media production audio visual

The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association  is an ANSI-accredited standards setting organization that, since its founding in 1939, has accumulated more than 11,400 enterprise and individual members, including manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and distributors, consultants, programmers, live events companies, technology managers, content producers, and multimedia professionals from more than 80 countries.  It throws off a fairly steady stream of best practice literature every year.

From its mission statement:

AVIXA members create integrated AV experiences that deliver outcomes for end users. AVIXA is a hub for professional collaboration, information, and community, and is the leading resource for AV standards, certification, training, market intelligence, and thought leadership.

From its filing with ANSI:

AVIXA intends to develop standards of the nature of the “performance” of various aspects of audiovisual systems. These fall into the categories of audio, visual, control systems, user interfaces, etc. These standards are specific to systems but not to equipment.

When special event contracts are written that include the statement — “conform to all applicable standards” — AVIXA standards would be understood as setting the quality benchmark for the audio-visual experience.   Apart from the local Fire Marshall and Electrical Inspector charged with event safety, there is no organized conformance stakeholder other than the customer (in our case, education communities).   In recent years we have seen the emergence of a new cadre of “event inspectors” (which means conference, training and certification revenue for non-profits); a topic we will cover in a separate post.

AVIXA’s standards setting enterprise is solid — conforms to all due process requirements — but struggles mightily for user-interest participation (as do other ANSI accredited standards setting organizations):

AVIXA Standards Public Review Status

Montclair University

Now that pandemic has off-loaded large chunks of the residential “campus experience” to the internet,  we need to step up our mindfulness about how A/V experiences support instructional and cultural needs of education communities.   With the respect to the electrotechnical installations themselves:

a)  Should they be built and managed as a central resource to an entire school district, college, or university?

b) Should they be built and managed by smaller, individual academic and business units?

c) Something in between.

We hazard a guess that choice (c) is the likely outcome.  There are “haves” and “have-nots” in education communities; just as there are in the world at large.  The more we demand of these enterprises, the more they will cost.

Ryerson University

There are no redlines of AVIXA consensus products open for review at the moment.  The last batch dealing with image system contrast ratios came and went mid-February.   We referred the mark up to the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee where there is more expertise in electrotechnology.

We maintain the AVIXA suite on our Lively Arts standing agenda where we try to submit new ideas of our own to AVIXA technical committees.  See our CALENDAR for the next Lively Arts teleconference; open to everyone.


Issue: [18-349]

Category: Lively Arts, Electrical, ICT

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey, Mark Scott


Archive / AVIXA



Digital Content Production

Commedia dell’arte Troupe on a Wagon in a Town Square, by Jan Miel, 1640

Education communities are one of the settings for digital media production centers that service massive open online curricula and cultural performance facilities for teaching and entertainment.  On many campuses now, reading rooms and libraries have been replaced with spaces that are dense with electro-technologies that require attention to sound, lighting, heat generation and shock prevention.   

For the people responsible for creating a satisfactory experience for education industry “customers”,  the art of electrical grounding at lower voltages is subtle and often vexing. One would imagine that after more than 100 years of commercial electrical power that the problem of grounding has been solved; but you would be mistaken.  Innovation streams in electro-technology; presenting technicians renewed challenges as these systems — which we broadly call Digital Content Production Facilities — evolve to meet the challenges of merging teaching with entertainment; on-campus or on the internet. There are several consensus and open-source safety standards developers in the space; all of whom claim some part of it.  

Montana State University

Accredited standards developers who claim to set the standard of care for some part of this facility class are as follows::

  • National Fire Protection Association; fire safety

    Article 520 Theaters Audience Areas of Motion Picture and Television Studios, Performance Areas and Similar Locations
    Article 522 Control Systems for Permanent Amusement Attractions
    Article 525 Carnivals, Circuses, Fairs and Similar Events
    Article 530 Motion Picture and Television Studios and Similar Locations

  • International Code Council; means of egress
  • American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers; indoor air quality
  • Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Industrial Applications Society; building premise electrical safety
  • Underwriters Laboratories; audio-visual products and accessories
  • Entertainment Services and Technology Association; pulls together all codes and standards to meet the business objectives of the entertainment industry. 
  • International Electrotechnical Commission; TC 108 deals with audio-visual, information and communication technology* 
  • PLASA (Professional Lighting and Sound Association)
  • AVIXA (Formerly INFOComm)

There are other consortia and open source standards continually in motion; though they do not conform to the due process requirements of the American National Standards Institute. 

When education and entertainment converge in temporary, exterior events where power and lighting are required to make the event successful, the standard of care is more complex. Filling the gaps between — and slicing through — the silos created by consensus standards developers and trade associations is the raison d’être of Standards Michigan and its 50-state affiliates.  In our opinion, not one of the organizations listed above are tooled up for dealing with the integrated discipline of facility management for the global education industry.

Mid-America Technology Center | Wayne, Oklahoma

We have covered our advocacy in the 2020 National Electrical Code in previous posts.  Today we drill into the technical specifics on the agenda of NEC CMP 15 which is evaluating public input on NEC Articles 520 through Article 540  which covers all building or that part of a building or structure, indoor or outdoor, designed or used for presentation, dramatic, motion picture projection, or similar purposes and to specific audience seating areas within motion picture or television studios. Public input for these Article 520 through Article 525 begins on Page 117 of this linked document:

2020 NFPA 70_First Revisions Report

Note the concern for event definitions, temporary power cords, specialty connecting devices, arc fault circuit interrupters and grounding. The full report on the CMP-15 committee actions during the October 2018 meetings in San Diego is available in the link below:

2020 NFPA 70 CMP-15 Second Draft Report

Balloting has already taken place.   NFPA will post the release the results of all 19 committee actions no later than April 19th.   Public response to the committee actions taken on the Second Draft (NFPA’s NITMAM process) is due April 26th

Standards Michigan also collaborates closely with IEEE committees that do most of the heavy-lifting for the user-interest in the education industry in the NFPA suite.  While we are happy to drill into the details any day at 11 AM Eastern time more enlightened discussion occurs during collaborations with the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee which meets again twice on February 12th.  Coordination of IEEE and NFPA consensus documents have been permanent items on the standing agenda but we find, on a near-weekly basis, new organizations entering the digital content space.   

University of Southern California | Glory Kaufman School of Dance

Issue: [99-3, 7-6, 12-80, 16-138, 19-154, 20-6]

Category: Electrical, Telecommunications, Fire Protection, Arts & Entertainment Facilities, Lecture Halls

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Jim HarveyRyan LawlessNehad El-Sherif  

LEARN MORE: This occupancy class in the education industry has been growing for the better part of twenty years now.  Links to some examples are listed below:

Mid-America Technology Center

University of Michigan Duderstadt Center Audio Studios

Specs Howard School of Media Arts

Arizona State University School of Media, Arts and Engineering

 * A great deal of equipment installed in this facility class originates in non-US electrical product markets.

Art & Entertainment Settings

“View from the Ancient Theater in Taormina to Mount Etna” (c. 1880) / Carl Wuttke

Safety and sustainability for any facility begins with an understanding of who shall occupy it.  University settings, with mixed-use phenomenon arising spontaneously and temporarily, often present challenges , and no less so in  square-footage identified as performing arts facilities.  The education industry presents the largest installed base of performing arts facilities.  A distinction is made between supervised occupants that are in secondary schools (generally under age 18) and unsupervised occupants that are in university facilities (generally above age 18).

First principles regarding occupancy classifications for performing arts facilities appear in Section 303 of the International Building Code Assembly Group A-1.  The public edition of the 2018 IBC is linked below:

2018 IBC Chapter 3: Occupancy Classification and Use

Each of the International Code Council code development groups A, B and C; fetch back to these classifications.   The Group B developmental cycle  from which the 2021 International Building Code is produced is at the end of its revision cycle.   Ahead of the formal, market release of the Group B products, you can sample the safety concepts in play during this revision with an examination of the documents linked below:



Each of the foregoing documents are lengthy so we recommend using search terms such as “school”, “college”, ‘”university”, “auditorium”, “theater”, “children”, “student” to hasten your cut through it.

We find continuation of lowering of the lighting power densities as noteworthy.  Technical committees assembled and managed by the International Code Council, the American Society of Heating & Refrigeration Engineers and the Illumination Engineering Society are leaders in developing consensus products that drive the LED illumination transformation.

The release of the 2021 Group B suite will begin another “promulgation” cycle (training, incorporation by reference into local public safety legislation, etc.).   We find that the best time to begin submitting proposals for the 2024 revision of the International Building Code is when the concepts that were rejected by technical committees are still fresh in mind.   The ICC has not published the revision schedule for the next revision but you may find that information — and participate directly in the ICC Code Development process at the link below:


We reserve a place on the agenda of our Model Building Code and Lively Art teleconferences for this topic.  See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting; open to everyone.


Issue: [18-166]

Category: Architectural, Healthcare Facilities, Facility Asset Management

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey, Richard Robben


cdpACCESS Hearing Video Streaming Service

Lighting Theatre & Auditorium Spaces

“Le Chahut” / Georges Seurat (1889)


“Love art in yourself, and not yourself in art.”

― Constantin Stanislavski


With illumination technology an essential part of the safety of audiences and subjects, and the quality and character of art and entertainment events, we follow action in the consensus products of the Illumination Engineering Society; its library linked below:

IES Lighting Library

The IES has a number of products of a general nature that apply to the education industry; among them the American National Standard Practice on Lighting for Educational Facilities.   We find them incorporated by reference into design guidelines and construction contracts; especially The Lighting Handbook, 10th Edition.

Our interest today lies in IES DG-20 Stage Lighting – A Guide to Planning of Theatres and Auditoriums. updated to add content for stage lighting controls; interfacing with networks, houselight design, control, and performance including emergency lighting, stage worklight and cue light systems; LED and automated stage lighting instruments; power distribution for stage and houselighting systems; and future proofing systems.  The roll out of power-over-ethernet lighting is a driver for immediate revisions as wiring fire safety principles evolve from the National Electrical Code.  Anyone who has ever purchased a ticket for a Broadway (New York) performance event, may understand (in dollar terms), the complexity of these events and the transfer cost to design, build, operate and maintain the complex electrotechnologies that make them successful.  We see many changes to the firmware governing event technologies crossing our radar.

The IES has released a closely related product — IES RP-41 Recommended Practice: Lighting Theater, Auditorium, and Worship Spaces —  for public review:

IES Standards Open for Public Review

Comments are due March 9th.  We always our colleagues to communicate directly with IES staff about securing the review drafts (Contact Albert Suen, asuen@ies.org).  The IES is always looking for subject matter experts to contribute to its consensus products; though it struggles, as do most ANSI-accredited standards developers, to achieve balance.   We encourage user interests in the education industry — facility managers, front-line operations and maintenance personnel, design engineers and sustainability specialists who have operations and maintenance data; and workpoint understanding of #TotalCostofOwnership concepts — to participate in the IES standards development process.   CLICK HERE to get started.

Because of the ubiquity of lighting technology IES products are on the standing agenda of several of our monthly teleconferences — Electrical, Healthcare, Athletic & Recreation, Arts & Entertainment.   We collaborate closely with the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee.   See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting; open to everyone.



Issue: [14-110]

Category: Electrical, Arts & Entertainment, Lighting

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Jim Harvey, Kane Howard


Pennsylvania State University Engineering Student Thesis on Auditorium Lighting

Audio/video, information & communication technology

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