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Set the stage this fall with CIS’ new live entertainment production program

Set the stage this fall with CIS’ new live entertainment production program


Getting started in the live entertainment business is easier than ever as the College of Lake County (CLC) launches its new live entertainment production program. This fall, start a career helping build and set up equipment and sets for events like concerts and theater productions.

Last year, CIS received a $10,000 grant from the American Institute of Theater Technology (USITT) to create the program. A combination of workers aging out of the profession and job loss during the pandemic has created a need for skilled workers.

“Professional training for these positions has never existed in the past,” said Dean of Communication Arts, Humanities and Fine Arts Sheldon Walcher. “Because of this, people spend many years getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees to do these jobs, because the industry has never really had a way to train professional technicians quickly.”

The new certificate requires 10 courses and an internship. Students can complete it and start their career in one year.

Students receive entry-level training in set making, rigging, audio, entertainment lighting and electrical work, video and wardrobe, and live event management. They also learn how to find and obtain work in the entertainment gig economy.

Work-based learning is integrated into the curriculum. Students are required to intern and have multiple opportunities at nearby hotspots, including at Upstaging Inc., a business and program partner in Sycamore, and other partners in the Chicago area. For students who need to stay closer to home, they can also intern at the CLC Theater Department.

Upstaging participated in the research phase with CLC and helped offer advice to make the training relevant to today’s industry. CLC then created a program that prepares students to work with top touring productions like Wrestlemania, Coldplay and WWE’s Kendrick Lamar. The tour technicians set up the stages and the lighting, and even do the sound production.

“It can be difficult to describe what you need to know for these careers. There are so many different elements,” said Upstaging co-founder Robin Shaw. “Working with CLC has been great and really helped us identify some key skills students need to succeed in such a diverse industry.”

Students will be introduced to the various career opportunities available in the field. The program is designed to give students a bit of everything so that when they enter the field, they have a foundation to do what interests them.

“There are a lot of lab courses for students to gain experience and learn to use the equipment before getting a job instead of learning on the job, as the industry has always worked,” said theater instructor Tracie Folger. “There aren’t many affordable and accessible training programs in the country that allow students to practice with the equipment before entering the world.”

The jobs pay well, Walcher said, with positions paying up to $60,000.

Careers in live entertainment production are ideal for those who enjoy traveling and working with their hands.

As a career and technical training program, students are eligible for the Perkins Grant and Metallica scholarship funds.

Live entertainment production courses begin this fall. Registration is available now for fall classes. To register, visit




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