Harmonizing Spaces: Labor Cost Saving Through Acoustic Automation for Performing Arts Venues

  |  March 6, 2024

Performing arts facilities are often the crown jewel of a community, and new challenges exist in a world that has grappled with a pandemic and cultural shift in recent years. Operational budgets have tightened, pencils have been sharpened, and the workforce has changed. There is an increasing need for operational sustainability within these performing arts facilities to ensure that the show will go on, even without an abundance of stagehands and facilities staff. Automation of the various acoustic systems within these facilities can effectively reduce the operational costs needed to run performance and event spaces while providing a more consistent audience experience. An initial investment in the equipment and technology required for automation will undoubtedly lead to future savings of both time and money and consequently keep fine and performing arts programs thriving for years to come.

The performing arts have been one of the sectors hit hardest by the global pandemic, and venues are still struggling for audiences and new content, but their place in our society remains as significant as ever. It is critical that a new generation of performers are provided with exceptional performance environments and that institutions ensure their performing arts facilities can spring back from difficult periods and withstand future setbacks through the implementation of automation and user-friendly systems that can be operated and maintained with fewer staff.

Performing arts facilities require a flexible design to properly support the unique needs of its art forms, chamber music to DCI compliant film screenings for example, for their audiences and performers. Adjustable acoustics systems create flexible, multi-use performance and event spaces and provide the ability to accommodate a wide range of programming and performance types with a flexible aural environment to support learning and playing. When banners are deployed, sound is dampened and the musician playing amplified music has the best aural environment in which to sharpen their skills. Next-generation acoustically enhanced banners muffle and soak-up excess reverberation with 100% more efficiency than previous designs, reducing their numbers. Motors and simple control systems replace labor-intensive and manually controlled acoustic drapes on pull-lines operated by a single technician.

 

 

New flexible orchestra shell towers can be safely moved by students, musicians, or staff with modest training. The ceiling reflectors can be mounted on motorized line sets, reducing stagehand’s time in moving the heavy rigging counterweights. By using honeycomb wall and ceiling panels, new shell design constructions to reduce weight and add stiffness. Displacement air delivery at floor level efficiently conditions the stage environment and sustainability is enhanced.

 

Electronic orchestra shell systems can be flown and then moved quickly into position without the need for large and costly on-stage shell storage. This increases available area and rigging space on the stage deck.

Electronic acoustic enhancement systems have gained widespread musician and audience acceptance in performing arts center renovations and outdoor venues. They become more attractive because the increase in labor costs outpaces the system costs. These considerations convinced the prestigious Peabody Institute to invest in a system at the new Bloomberg Center at Johns Hopkins University, which offers another dimension of flexibility and reliability.

Automated systems improve acoustics for a wide range of performances, saving time and improving repeatability. With optimal acoustics achieved swiftly and easily, artists and operations staff can focus on their creative evolution rather than the mundane tasks that once required excessive time and physical effort.

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