Staging: Rise to the occasion

Stand Out looks at new staging systems that have entered the market and how they are being put to creative use…

Sport and music concepts are increasingly popular. The UK calendar is crammed with racing fixtures, and savvy sports venue owners and organisers are realising the revenue potentials of tagging a concert on to a race meeting or track event.

Some organisers would argue that the music elements create added value, others recognise that the pull of a top music artist draws in a potential future generation of sports fans and it also can be considered a massive PR machine.

Event organisers only have to look at the success of the after-race concerts held at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix to see how effective sport and music are together.

Liz Hobbs Group recently announced that it is to work with Hickstead, predominantly known for its showjumping, to create a series of music and live events that will challenge the norm. It will be a new entertainment concept that will build on the group’s successes with the sport and music model at racecourses up and down the country.

This is a prime example of how a production company can work with a stakeholder to create a new experience, and is demonstrative of the creative capabilities within industry.

Naturally, the new concepts will require a stage, and refreshingly, the market is now to benefit from three new systems. LS-Live, Stageco and Baconinfate with Alistage have launched staging concepts and solutions into the arena, all with a key target in mind, creating options for small, medium and large-scale events alike.

Stage one

Liz Hobbs Group approached LS-Live, which has recently merged with Acorn Event Solutions, to fulfill the staging contract for a major outdoor performance by Westlife at Doncaster Keepmoat Stadium. Liz Hobbs Group had worked with LS-Live on a number of events at the start of the summer, such as Ross County FC’s first ever concert with JLS and Olly Murs, and another one-off Westlife gig at Hamilton Park Racecourse, where LS- Live’s new Space Roof system had been put to the test.

“The client had already chosen to use our Space Roof system at various events over the summer and been very impressed,” commented Andy Nutter,  operations director, LS-Live. “It had also seen us deliver a great stage production utilising the Space Roof at Wembley for Capital FM’s Summertime Ball, so came directly to us to deliver it once again for the Westlife gig. Since then we have also worked with them to deliver a successful stage production at Newbury Racecourse for Tom Jones.”

LS-Live supplied the Space Roof system in its smallest configuration,16- metres wide and 14-metres deep with two cowsheds and a loading ramp. The stadium is not designed for large vehicle access and has only narrow access points, so the system was ideal for these conditions.

Every component of the stage, from the Layher Event Deck staging to the heavy-duty aluminium Space Roof frame, is entirely modular, so it breaks down into units that are easily packed and transported. LS-Live was able to bring in the structure on small forklifts around the edge of the stadium, using the purpose built ramp towards the latter stages of the build and erecting the large structure without using any cranes.

With Nutter project managing, a crew of eight took just two days to build in excess of 20 tonnes worth of staging structures, with a one-day load out.

He continues: “This summer our crew have perfected the build of this stage to a fine art; the build wouldn’t normally take two full days, but this period was extended due to the limitations of the access points.” The introduction of the Space Roof earlier this year saw LS-Live enter the large outdoor staging market, expanding on its range of stages with their biggest yet. This stage is the result of years of structural engineering expertise brought together by the combined intelligence of LS-Live and Acorn Event Solutions.

Together it has developed what it believes to be the ultimate outdoor stage; and states that it takes fewer days to assemble, requires fewer trucks and less manpower than all similar sized stages in the marketplace and yet maintains high load bearing capacity – maximum 50 tonnes in its largest format and withstands high windspeeds (max 82.5mph), complying to all current health and safety guidelines and new EN windspeed codes.

Commenting on the recent stage collapses witnessed by the industry, Nutter suggests that there’s a misconception by even some of the industry’s biggest players that aluminium-based structures are not as strong as steel.

“We have been engineering aluminium staging products for over 30 decades
so understand it better than anyone. If aluminium is engineered properly and integrated into a stage system using the upmost design intelligence, there is no reason why it can’t safely withstand heavy-duty stage rigs. The Space Roof has more than adequate ballast in the form of both water and concrete. In the event of strong winds, our Space Roof is fitted with an anemometer and we provide event organisers with clear instruction of when the side sheeting should be lowered, which takes just minutes on our design, and when to attach front guide wires to the stage as additional support.”

Thinking big

Stageco believes its new XL Tower system will widen creative options for show and event designers. The Tower Staging system is significantly stronger, bigger, and is a modular component system. This means the new XL Towers can be used in multiple configurations, allowing more flexible design on a larger scale than ever before.

The solution has arisen from its experience of designing and building extra large steel for U2’s immense world tour. Stageco director, Dirk De Decker says that the XL Towers will allow it to meet market demand for large systems whilst meeting logistical measures.

The XL Towers have been designed for optimum transportation with a 2.2 square metre truss size fitting perfectly into sea containers. Its engineering strength means that Stageco can extend modular stage height and extend roof-span to now offer a potential span of 50 metres.

You raise me up

Baconinflate has launched the ExpoStage, a new system based on its ExpoTunnel product. It’s a system that is ideal for small bands and performers and has recently been used by the BBC, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC’s Live ‘n’ Deadly and Carphone Warehouse. ExpoStage measures 4.5m x 4.8m, can be branded, has an inflatable canopy and a base supplied by Alistage. Baconinflate and Alistage are working in collaboration, and the new system can withstand 35-40 mile an hour winds.

ExpoStage has been designed to facilitate an industry demand for a small, covered outdoor stage with minimal set-up. Integrating an adjustable stage floor system and ballast connection, the ExpoStage can be installed on both hard- standing and grass field sites, and if used in conjunction with other Baconinflate products helps create a mini festival village. Gary Bennett, managing director, Baconinflate, is working with Colin Wright, managing director, Alistage, which is also responsible for installing a tiered platform at BBC Proms in the Park, Hyde Park, on behalf of Spice Lumb, which was responsible for the set design.

Flying high

After having recently completed work on Truvia’s rooftop Voyage of Discovery project with Bompas and Parr at Selfridges, Richard Howey-Nunn, director, Steeldeck, says that the company is now working with Topshop at Waterloo Station, providing catwalks and tiered seating for its London Fashion Week show. The Steeldeck team is filling in the tracks between platforms, creating a level playing field, using the space between platforms as a catwalk with a press area at the end. It also recently provided seating tiers in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern for the Michael Clark Company, and installed a platform at the recent production of Romeo and Juliet at The O2.

Expanding horizons

In May, Star Events Group bought the assets of SRC and Stages UK Ltd, which now means that the company offers a range of 12 mobile stages. Sizes now available are from 8m x 6m up to the 15m x 12m SAM stage. Included in the acquisition were cable ramps and front of stage barrier all of which can travel inside the stages along with motors and risers offering a saving in transport costs.

Now, Star Events Group has announced a new phase in its development plan, which gives it a base in the Middle East for the first time. Working with Dubai-based Quickfix Scaffolding Solutions (QFS) as the local partner; the new venture will see its grandstand system available throughout the Middle East.

Adding to the comfort levels of grandstand users, the new 20-20 Grandstand Roof system is also being introduced to the Middle East market, only six months after being introduced at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in the UK. Capable of covering 20 rows of seats with only one upright every 20-metres, the roof features 100 per cent reflection of light and UV, is totally waterproof and can fly large amounts of sound and lighting equipment as well.

“We are always looking for ways to expand our operation overseas and having already established operations in China, Italy, Spain and New Zealand, the Middle East was an obvious new territory,” says Star Events Group’s sales director, Jane Russen. “There is a clear synergy between our two companies and our client base, so when the opportunity to combine our knowledge, experience and equipment presented itself, it seemed a win-win all round.”