Rudd’s Money- Nation Building

With the introduction earlier this year of  a cash injection for schools to build halls etc. as part of Kevin Rudd’s nation building concept. Have you wondered really how well this money is being spent, given the short time frame that they were given to spend this money. Now a know a lot of schools are building halls with a stage or performance space. Therefore you can sing and play netball at the same time. But are these schools getting the right type of advice in regards to the technical aspects of the performance area. How many dodgy companies have started up and are installing dodgy equipment that is not up to the job. Schools can be harsh on the equipment and the equipment needs to be good and tough. And how many people are working down to a price to get as much equipment into the venue, so the quality is down but the quantity is up. It should almost be mandatory that the audio system be of reasonable quality and sufficient to basicly work in a factory like space – lots of hard surfaces and large volume. Now so of this cheap equipment might sound great, but what happens when it breaks down? Will the schools have sufficient funds to repair or replace? Or will it fall into disrepair? Disrepair is whqat will happen I feel, this cheap equipment that is coming from overseas will look good and maybe sound good. But itis only a copy and often uses inferior components that will not last the distance of the equipment that they are copying. And these cheap Chinese copiers are also forcing some of the major  manufacturers to lower their prices and potentially lower their quality, so we all lose out.

So how do we know if the schools are getting value for money and has the government allowed provisions in the budget in future years to look after these venues and the equipment. We as tax payers need to ask our local members these questions. We do not want our children attending at school with what looks like great facilities only for them to break down and the school becomes even more in debt trying to maintain them. The schools need to be able to access quality equipment and advice, and to be able to put some of the funding away for future maintenance or a maintenance contract. How will this equipment put up with being belted with the odd basketball, especially if the lighting is exposed. Are these types of venues really ideal for schools, will be be sufficiently hands on for the students. Will students actually be able to access lighting bars etc legally? Because the purpose of these venues will be to teach students some technical skills. Or is there going to be a staff member sufficiently interested in the technical side and also possessing the necessary skills to use the equipment and make sure that it is maintained. Then you might have a school with no one that is interested in looking after the audio and lighting gear? What is going to happen to it? There are a lot of unanswered questions about this whole scheme. Is the money going to be wasted in a lot of these schools that are getting money through the Nation Building Scheme. some schools will make the most of it and will listen to industry professionals. but what about those who get in someone that is only interested in selling one brand, or is a music shop that does not have experience of venue installations and mainly sell amps, guitars and portable PA’s. Or the consultant that has no true venue experience as a tech. Hopefully the consultant will have access to engineers, good suppliers, has good insurance nad is willing to listen and to ask the hard questions and not be afraid to tell a client that installing rubbish is not the way to go.

If the government is investing in the nation’s children the investment needs to be ongoing one not a one of payment.

Your input on this topic would be gratefully accepted, this is an important topic.

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One thought on “Rudd’s Money- Nation Building

  1. Pretty close to the mark Stephen. I too have noticed several schools rushing to build new multi purpose venues and get the cheapest equipment possible. I do understand why, as there is simply no budget left to get anything worthwhile. Face it, why would a school spend $20k on sound gear alone when they can get a system for a quarter of that price and it still plays music. Quality doesn’t really come into it as many teachers, performing arts heads and especialy the students, dont really care about the quality, as long as it works. Most students don’t show even the cheapest of equipment any respect which is another reason why “cheaper is better”. Sadly in the tough economic time were in (apparently) any technical infrastructure takes second place to many other things. I recently made a comment on the old talkback system used in one of my regular school gigs and how the belt packs and headsets continually fail due to not only their age, but their abuse. The comment that came back was, “well were not going to spend heaps on a system that the kids will wreck” so we’ll keep using this one.

    Sadly I tend to agree with them as I too am continually telling the kids to “take it easy” and look after the stuff.. But do they?.. Nope!! Headsets get thrown down instead of placed and belt packs dropped becuase they cant be bother making suree they’re attched before letting go. All you get is a laugh that it’s now broken.

    I think that this is the unfortunate trade off by allowing students to be techies that really dont have any real interest. As for lighting, its a siimilar thing where the mindset is that old lantern still produce light just like new ones but through lack of understanding sees the purse string holders not willing to procure more efficient and functional fixtures. I got asked recently why I needed to setup 24 profiles for a small show. Simply, the answer was “the director wants 4 colours to cover the full stage, which was 40m away form the mounting points. Trying to explain Lux loss was a nightmare and all I got was a raised eyebrow when I mentioned that using 6 movers of the same power mounted closer would have given us the same “brightness” but also a range of instantly chooseable colours, adjustable beam widths & focussing options and the ability to point them pretty much anywhere instead of using static fixtures to try and “fluff” the same result.

    So unless the school has lots of money available to firstly procure the real gear we all want to use, we’ll be stuck with cheap chinese stuff that sort of works and is effectively disposable rather than repairable.

    Krudd and his cronies would do schools wonders by supporting the purchase of current technology which is energy efficient and provides increased functionality.

    That’s my bit, but I know I’ll still be using PAT23s and 500w zoomspots in the future. 😦

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