Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why We Won't Light the Ice Show

It may have come as a bit of a surprise to some that my company won't bid the lighting for my rink. There's a reason, and the reason is that the company needs to earn an income.

I've stated before that our area is saturated with Ice Rinks, and most Rinks will do two shows a year. On the surface, this could mean a lot of money.

Trouble is, our area is also saturated with Lighting Companies, and the Ice Rinks know this. The Rinks, run by municipal Park Districts mostly, will all run out and get competing bids for the lighting and labor, with the lowest lighting company winning regardless of the quality of lighting package being delivered. (This is why you get trashy silver parcans and Big Bertha the Spotlight.)

To make matters worse, Ice Rinks have all the Teapot Tempests of Betsy Ballet, but in a space that is tremendously difficult to work in. For a Freelance Lighting Technician to get called "work an Ice Show" in our area is one of those nightmarish rites of passage, reserved for the newbies right out of college, or folks we only call if we have to. Everyone else turned it down. The call always takes longer than stated, since the Ice Rink People always lowball the time they need, the pay is slow since the Ice Rink People aren't fast on cash, (Dad did an Ice Show in the late 90's and still hasn't been paid) and the call is awful since, well, you're in the rafters of a cold ice rink all day.

Our company used to do a lot of ice shows, but it's been company policy to slowly remove ourselves from them. That became policy for a lot of lighting companies, actually, and now only a small handful of lighting companies tackle them. Simple truth, they were unprofitable and a total pain. The Ice Rinks were demanding more, but unwilling to pay more than they had in previous years. Labor costs were going up, but there was no increase in what we were able to charge.

When the owner of my company sent a letter to the Rinks, detailing a sudden increase in what the rinks were going to pay for their shows and why, the Rinks screamed foul and most of them left.

It wasn't a big loss. In talking to the guys who have done the lighting for the Ice Show, I'm glad I'm not involved. They've both described Rink Management as uncommunicative, difficult, and blase until something goes wrong. Typical, really. I've seen this kind of behavior before, and it's hard to do a show under people like that. And to know that sometimes their checks arrive six months after the final curtain, I'm happy to stay a part time volunteer.

Again, if I were asked, I'd be happy to provide advice on cheap methods of good design. But whatevs. So, no, it's not my company doing the lighting. We just don't want to work for cheap anymore, but for some reason I do work for free.

I can't explain that.

1 comment:

  1. We just don't want to work for cheap anymore, but for some reason I do work for free.

    I can't explain that.

    I can explain that. Volunteering feels good. Helpful. Community building. Working for cheap feels like being taken advantage of. Giving of your own volition is quite a different story than being nickeled and dimed out of a proper paycheck. It makes perfect sense to me. I say stick to your guns!