The launch of Berkshire-based Wellington College’s G.W. Annenberg Performing Arts Centre back in September 2018 marked the culmination of an extensive £14 million project aimed at opening its facilities to local schools and the wider community. The centre boasts a 900-plus seat auditorium that is based around state-of-the art equipment, supplied by technical specialist and reseller Stage Electrics.
The College’s theatre manager, Tom McWilliam, joined the team in March to oversee its completion. High production values and involving its students in the technical side of its productions are hallmarks of the College, so equipping the theatre to a professional standard, in line with what is currently predominant in West End theatres, was a priority. To this end, McWilliam worked closely with Stage Electrics’ Paul Roughton and Jamie Gosney to ensure the right solutions were sourced for the project, with a Digico SD12 and its associated D2 Rack being key elements of the theatre’s audio infrastructure.
“There are lots of activities for the students to get involved in that centre around performing arts and, as we also have a radio station, we run a broadcast society,” says McWilliam. “We want to increase the uptake for these kinds of activities, and we felt that if our students know we have a sound desk that is the same as those being used in professional theatres, they will want to take part.”
A Digico SD12 and D2 Rack were selected for their ability to accommodate the scale of the productions the school puts on, which includes mostly musicals and orchestral productions. “We wanted a real investment, as the desk will be in the theatre for a long time,” McWilliam continues. “The fact that Digico releases regular software upgrades means that its consoles are always keeping up-to-date with changing needs, and it’s a system we can add to in the future if we want things like a separate monitor desk, which is a big bonus.”
Not all of the College’s staff have experience with Digico consoles, so initial training has been organised by Stage Electrics, with further hands-on sessions to be scheduled once the team has had a chance to gain more experience with the equipment.
“I know that there will always be ongoing support from Stage Electrics and Digico whenever we need it, and that’s invaluable,” McWilliam concludes. “Having such a first-class technical infrastructure is fantastic and, because this is a non-profit making enterprise, we are able to provide free access to our facilities and share our passion for the arts with as many people as possible.”