By: Stephen Roy White, Chair of the Lighting Studio

There were many wonderful successes at the 58th Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Fort Lauderdale, including a debut from the Lighting Commission. Off the beaten path and hidden in a dark room, the Commission’s new Lighting Studio celebrated its opening. What started several years ago as a desire among commission leaders for more “hands on” experiences grew into an interactive research lab for creative exploration.

During the four days of the Conference, more than 150 attendees sat down at the control desks and engaged with the equipment. The goal of the committee was to create four small-scale learning environments for people of all skill levels and experience.

Novices could get time to explore concepts they had only seen or read about, experts could have time to troubleshoot programming challenges that tech rehearsals rarely allow, and everyone would have opportunities to try control desks and gear that doesn’t regularly cross their paths. Participants engaged in more than 100 hours of programming time at the four stations. Each station was intimate and small in scale, but each offered unique opportunities for research, growth, and learning. Several people commented this was their best experience at the conference.

Many vendors and manufacturers were instrumental to the Lighting Studio’s success. “Clearwing Productions was a great sponsor,” said Todd Proffitt, a Commissioner for the USITT Lighting Commission. Proffitt said their support was “helpful in achieving the educational mission of the studio. We can’t thank them enough for their help.”

Clearwing creatively worked with the studio leadership team to provide equipment that would enable the research and educational goals of the lab while keeping within the lab’s power restrictions. Equipment was provided by ETC, Chamsys, Martin, Elation, Philips, High End, Clay Paky, and MA. The lab could not have achieved its success without support from these great companies.

Plans are underway to build on this year’s success in the future. The studio committee collected feedback and hopes to remount the studio with minor changes to further enhance the experience for participants and observers. Continue to watch the conference website and USITT Lighting Design and Technology social media outlets for information on participation in future labs.

If you would like to explore volunteer opportunities in the studio or in other areas contact the commission at