Social Distancing Activities

At this point, if you don’t know you’re supposed to stay home whenever possible and limit your contact with other people, you must live under a rock. Of course, if you do live under a rock you’re probably better off than a lot of people, so good on ya!

While you sit home avoiding people, why not get some education? It’s prime time to take a bunch of classes, so when we finally do get back to work you’ll have more knowledge and skills which could very well lead to getting more work. There really isn’t a down side here! Check out the links below and see if there is something that interests you. It doesn’t have to be entertainment industry related, of course… educating yourself on pretty much anything makes you a better person all the way around. If you do complete training courses related to the industry, please email your certificates or other documentation to training (at) for credit and so we know what new knowledge you’ve acquired.

Of course first I’m going to point out the IATSE Training Trust Fund partnerships. The TTF works to provide all IATSE workers, members or not, with training to develop new skills, keep up with changing technology, and generally improve their value as workers. Normally all of these programs would come with a cost, but through the TTF partnerships the IA is able to offer them to all workers either free or at a greatly reduced price.

IATSE TTF Partnerships:

Did you know ASM Global, who manages DeVos Place/Hall and Van Andel Arena, contributes to the TTF as part of our collective bargaining agreements? They have a vested interest in our workers being highly skilled so they can provide the best experience for their clients. That also makes all of our referents who have worked under those agreements (which has to be pretty close to all of you) eligible for these classes!

First up is TTF and Safety First! The Safety First! classes are valuable for every craft in the industry whether you think you need it or not. They’re also valuable for a number of situations in your regular daily life. Not only do they teach you to recognize potential hazards and decrease your risk of injury or other harm, they also include case studies that actually happened in the industry for ease of understanding. The TTF has made it even easier to apply for these classes with an online application.

Second is TTF and LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning (formerly has an incredible array of online courses for pretty much anything you could want to learn. The Local 26 Education and Safety Committee keeps a list of preferred courses specifically related to the industry, but you don’t have to limit yourself if other subjects interest you! Again, the TTF is looking out for you with an easier online application, found here.

Third in line is TTF and Avixa. Avixa (formerly InfoComm) is the program the IA uses for Live Event Technician training. This is the online portion of the week-long classroom course the Local participated in a few years ago. Those who passed both the online and classroom courses became certified Live Event Technicians. Those who take the online portion only will become Avixa recognized AV Technologists.

Manufacturer and Vendor Classes:

Ever wanted to learn how to run a light board? There are of course many online classes (and Local 26 has taught a few as well), but they usually come with what can sometimes be a hefty fee. Due to the current situation, however, several companies are offering their online classes free of charge. There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone one you already have!

ETC (Electronic Theatre Controls) has several courses that not only can teach you how to run their various controllers, but also how to network, maintain, and troubleshoot their systems. You won’t end up as a certified ETC technician, but you will gain a great deal of valuable knowledge. Most if not all of the venues in which we work have ETC lighting consoles, and there aren’t a lot of people currently working who have the skill checks for them.

ACT Lighting Academy is a new one to me, but they also offer training courses on various lighting controllers, namely the GrandMA2 and GrandMA3. Those are boards we see come through with shows, and also what some of our vendor affiliates use. All of their classes are showing prices, but you can get them for free by creating a free account and using the promo code act4me during checkout.

This article from LiveDesign lists a number of companies offering free training in many aspects of the entertainment industry. Some are well known, others not so much. It’s all learning! It’s all important!

Don’t Forget to Entertain Yourself!

These last few are not technically educational, but offer entertainment to help alleviate your boredom and give you a theatrical break from binge-watching all those TV shows you’ve missed while working live shows.

For those of you who miss working Broadway musicals, BroadwayHD is a streaming service that allows you to watch hundreds of Broadway shows in your living room. Normally a paid subscription service (and worth it if you’re interested at only $8.99/month or $99.99/year), they are now offering a 7-day free trial. There are no limits on how many shows you are allowed to watch in that time. Wouldn’t it be neat to see some of the stuff you’ve worked from the front?

Calling all opera fans! You may have missed the recent live stream of Opera Grand Rapids’ Scalia/Ginsburg, but the Metropolitan Opera is offering an incredible catalog of performances you can stream free of charge. There is a different production every day with the daily stream beginning at 7:30pm EDT, but each one is available for streaming for 20 hours afterward in case you missed it.

In addition to these, there are a number of museums, zoos, aquariums, and other similar attractions employing webcams while they are shut down to provide virtual tours. Also, most libraries offer electronic borrowing of books, movies, etc. while they are closed (and while they’re open too, of course). Plus, it was just announced yesterday afternoon that the DNR is waiving state park entrance fees until further notice, so if you really need to get out of the house you have somewhere to go. Just make sure you practice social distancing, and be aware many buildings may well be closed, such as visitor centers and restrooms.

Be safe. Be well. Take some classes. Watch some shows. And most importantly… WASH YOUR HANDS!