Breaking into the live entertainment business is easier than ever as Lake County College (CLC) begins its new live entertainment production program. This fall, start a career helping build and set equipment and sets for events like concerts and theater productions.
Last year, the CLC received a $10,000 grant from the United States Institute of Theater Technology (USITT) to create the project. The combination of career aging and job losses among workers during the pandemic has created demand for skilled workers.
“Career training for these positions has never existed in the past,” said Sheldon Walcher, dean of the College of Communication Arts, Humanities and Fine Arts. “Because of that, it took many years for people to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees to do these jobs, because the industry never really had a way to quickly produce skilled people.”
The new certificate requires 10 courses and an internship. Students can complete and start their careers in one year.
Students will receive entry-level training in set making, rigging, audio, entertainment lighting and electrical engineering, video and costumes, and live event management. They also learn how to find and get work in the entertainment gig economy.
Work-based learning is incorporated into the curriculum. Students must intern in nearby hotspots and gain access to multiple opportunities, including at Upstaging Inc., a Sycamore corporate and project partner, and other partners in the Chicago area. For students who need to be close to home, they can also go to CLC’s drama department for internship.
Upstaging participated in the research phase of the CLC and helped provide guidance on making the training relevant to current industry. CLC then created a curriculum to prepare students for high-profile tours such as WWE’s Wrestlemania, Coldplay and Kendrick Lamar. Touring technicians build the stage and lighting, and even do the sound production.
“It’s hard to describe what you need to know for these careers. There are so many different elements,” said Upstaging co-founder Robin Shaw. “Partnering with CLC has been fantastic and really helped us identify students to be successful in such a diverse industry Some of the key skills required.”
Students will be introduced to the different career opportunities available in the field. The program is designed to provide students with a little bit of everything so that they enter the field with a foundation to do what interests them.
“There are a lot of hands-on classes where students gain experience and learn to use equipment before they get a job, rather than learning on the job, which is how the industry has always worked,” says theater instructor Tracie Folger. “There aren’t many affordable and accessible training programs in the country that allow students to practice with equipment before going out into the world.”
The jobs pay well, with positions worth as much as $60,000, Walcher said.
A career in live entertainment production is ideal for those who enjoy traveling and working with their hands.
As a career and technical education program, students are eligible for Perkins Bursaries and Metallica Scholarships.
The Live Entertainment Production course will begin this fall. Registration for fall classes is now available.To register, please visit www.clcillinois.edu/fall