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New certificate help theatre workforce needs

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published May 23, 2022

College of Lake County (CLC) theatre faculty member Tracie Folger was awarded a $10,000 grant by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) to develop a career and technical education (CTE) certificate in Live Entertainment Production. The grant helps fund curriculum development and marketing for the proposed CTE program.

A student at CLC working on creating stage propsFolger is one of three recipients of USITT’s new Plan for Unprecedented Research Projecting Optimal and Sustainable Engagement (PURPOSE) grant program, offering research grant funding of up to $10,000 per recipient.

In the program, students will receive focused training in scenery fabrication, rigging, audio, entertainment lighting and electrical work, video and wardrobe and live event management. They will also learn how to find and procure work in the entertainment gig economy.

PURPOSE supports individual and group investigations into current industry restart efforts including changed production operations, increased sustainability of physical resources and improved working conditions for all involved artists and technicians.

During the pandemic, the live entertainment industry was hit harder than most, being one of the first to shut down and last to reopen, Folger said.

“A lot of theatres went out of business, and people lost their jobs,” Folger said. “This program will help to repopulate the workforce.”

The economic modeling resource Emsi indicates that 70% of the Live Entertainment Production workforce is white and 60% of the workforce is male. This certificate would create a pathway to the industry for students from underserved and under-resourced schools and communities with the goal of increasing diversity in the workforce.

USITT was founded in 1960 as an organization to promote dialogue, research, and learning among practitioners of theatre design and technology. Today it has grown to include members at all levels of their careers and has embraced the new technologies being used in entertainment. USITT is now the leader in life-long learning opportunities for the entertainment design and technology industry.

“When USITT was established, research was and remains one of the primary purposes for its existence,” USITT President Carolyn Satter said. “For the Institute, this funding is an investment in our members, with a return that will yield a positive impact on our industry.”

Classes for the new certificate are set to begin fall 2023.

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.