2005 OISTAT Technology Commission Meeting Minutes

Nov 18, 2005

OISTAT Technology Commission Meeting
National Chiang Kai Shek Cultural Center, Taipei City, Taiwan
17 November 2005

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John Mayberry CITT, Canada                                   [Chair]
Sándor Böröcz OPAKFI, Hungary
Fritz Schwentker USITT, USA                                 [minutes]
Bert Determann VPT, Netherlands
Christe (Joey) Nombres PATDAT, Philippines
Pavel Dautovský COSDAT, Czech Republic
Kelvin TSANG Man-Tung HKATTS, Hong Kong
Martin Tschermak DTHG, Germany
Pu Lin TATT, Taiwan
Louis Janssen, VPT Netherlands                             [vice-chair][non-voting]

--Welcome and Opening Remarks--
[John Mayberry]
The chair welcomed the delegates and thanked Pu Lin and our local hosts for their hard work in organizing the event. He further stressed the importance of such face-to-face meetings for the successful functioning of the Commission.

A brief and informative discussion followed, primarily for the benefit of the newer members of the group, on the background and history of the Commission. Salient points included the beginnings of the OISTAT during the cold war period as a way to share between eastern and western European colleagues. Technology Commission members helped provide material support to their counterparts who had less access to technology and supplies. During and between the meetings from 1993 through about 1998, the commission experienced a change toward a deeper working relationship amongst its members as well as an expansion from its primarily European roots. Questions on the representation from the continents of South America and Africa followed demonstrating the desire of those on the commission to continue this expansion.

--Attendance and Voting Rules--
[John Mayberry]
A new election for commission chair is scheduled for the afternoon meetings.
OISTAT's voting rules as previously distributed were reviewed by the group for clarity. It was noted that the statutes do not require any minimum number of delegates to be present to conduct such an election. 

Greetings and regrets for not being able to attend the meeting were read from Ivo Kersmaekers of Belgium, Dino Ibañez of Spain, and Jose Antonio of Cuba.

--Approval of Minutes and Agenda--
The group approved unanimously the minutes from the previous commission meeting (2 December 2004) in Antwerp. The agenda for the current meeting was also reviewed; additions included a discussion of the website, and a "new business" item.

--Items Arising from the Minutes--
Update delivered on the Netherlands SICA project to train EEC citizens in technical theatre and theatre management. Martin Tschermak reports skepticism, as a project such as this is unusual for the EEC funding organization mentioned. The commission's recommendation is that this be pursued solely as a European-based project or that it be forwarded to the Education Commission. John Mayberry will write to the Education Commission and to Fritz van den Haspel from whom the proposal originated.

--New Business--
[general discussion]
The Chair opened discussion by restating the Commission's role as being a venue for assembling information. It was noted by the group that this role has narrowed as technology has increased access to information for participants in our field.

The following topics were shared as part of a discussion of the role of the Commission and of possible projects that could be pursued in the future:
-- An interest in the need for risk assessment planning in production situations. Specifically, if individuals are required to do this in their facilities and venues, how is this done, and are there forms available for others to use? Could the Commission assist in collecting these and allowing web access? A similar interest was voiced for costing forms.
-- Practitioners in economically challenged and emerging countries were identified as potentially valuable colleagues whom the Commission could and should support. This might material support such as equipment and supplies, but also in offering extended exchange of expertise.

-- Martin Tschermak asked what are the responsibilities of technologists as the economics of theatre have changed? As an example, consider the lessening in state support of theatre in some western European communities. How does this require us to reinvent our way of working? Are technologists, due to their problem solving skills well positioned to help lead organizations to new economic structures? How are these new structures modeled worldwide?

-- It was generally agreed that the Commission should increase its visibility and its commitment to host communities for educational purposes. A goal was agreed establish a practice that the Commission share its collective knowledge in a formal fashion whenever possible. A suggestion was forwarded that EACH Commission member should be prepared to present a paper of workshop whenever Commission meetings were held. All agreed that this would assist in increasing the visibility and relevance of the Commission
-- Sándor Böröcz noted that he is interested in access to a database of sample solutions for theatre design. By having information that could be forwarded to funders and government agencies, it could be possible to help define how performing arts facilities are specified, equipped, and used in different countries. The value would be as an informational/educational tool for those entities who are unfamiliar with theatrical practice, but must have a sense of the costs and range of use of performance facilities.

Commission participants felt there were a variety of sources for such information that could be gathered.

--Election of Chair--
Governing Board members Maija Pekkanen and Simona Rybáková supervised the election of a new chair of the Technology Commission. Two candidates had been nominated: John Mayberry and Ivo Kersmaekers. 

Louis Janssen read a candidate's statement from Ivo Kersmaekers who was unable to attend the meeting in Taipei. John Mayberry presented a statement on his own behalf.

Mr. Kersmaekers was elected with a  majority of six votes to three.

The Commission delegates agreed to nominate John Mayberry as vice-chair, and to ask Ivo Kersmaekers to appoint a second individual at a later date.

Discussion of the OISTAT website included the following three items: (1) concerns about the ease of navigation of the new site; (2) availability and access to information from the old site, specific to both the Commission and the Institute as whole; and (3) procedures for adding (primarily Commission specific) information to the site.

John Mayberry agreed to investigate these concerns and report his findings.

The group as a whole agreed that in light of previous discussions during the day, that it would be wise to establish a presence on the OISTAT website. At a minimum, the following material would be useful to see:
        --meeting minutes
        --conference proceedings and papers
        --member introductions/bios
        --a history of Commission projects and the results or products of
those projects
        --meeting agendas
        --latest news
        --an annotated list of resources

--Future Meetings--
Concern was expressed over the lack of possibilities for an invitation in September 2006 for a meeting to be held.

A possible invitation for later include PQ in 2007.

--Other Business--
John Mayberry discussed the use of CITT's Callboard as an excellent model for group collaboration, discussion, business, and presentations. It may be possible to utilize this or a similar device for international work as well.

--Special Presentation by Teleconference from Olle Söderberg of Sweden--
A PowerPoint presentation was given on:

The Proposed Business Plan for a CEN (European Committee for Standardization) Workshop on "Lifting equipment for stages within the entertainment industry" by Mr. Olle Söderberg on behalf of SIS, the Swedish Standards Institute. Question and answer on the particular workings of the process followed.

Mr. Söderberg stressed that support from a non-governmental organization of experts like OISTAT was both required and vital to the official process. The membership agreed that they would offer nominations of individuals, particularly of the relevant European nations, who would be qualified to serve on the committee during this process. Also needed are groups from these countries who can assist with the required funding. It was reported that commitments had already been received from:

The next day's seminars by John Mayberry, Hsien-hui Lee, Louis Janssen, and Reinhold Daberto were announced. The meeting was adjourned after the participants thanked our hosts for their assistance with the meeting, and then congratulating John Mayberry on his leadership of the meeting and of the Commission over the past several years.