Theaters and entertainment venues are filled with specialized equipment including lighting, rigging, sound, and video systems to the aisle lights, acoustical clouds and panels, fall arrest, orchestral pit, and stage lifts. Not to mention the typical building equipment like HVAC, sprinkler systems, fire system, and security alarms. When designing these spaces there is an entire team of experts who collaborate on a design for one single room. After construction, the experts jobs are over and the facility gets turned over to the staff.
The number of people on staff (as well as the qualifications required for the staff) will depend on the type of facility, i.e. high school stage, performing arts center, university theater, or professional theater. One of the key people in charge is the "TD" or Technical Director (or Theater Director, which sometimes is the same person or may be an entire different position). The TD is responsibile for alot often including the specialty systems in the theater. The job application for the TD position probably was not exhaustive of all duties and skills required or I should say expected. The "sound guy" probably is not an expert of the lighting system and vise versa. The TD position is challenging and difficult and trying to find a TD who is an expert on every single system is near impossible. To keep the venue up and running the TD must make sure all systems are working properly. If any one system is inoperable, the entire venue may have to close until it gets fixed.
Most of us are not experts in all fields and therefore must draw the line on things we can task versus when it's time to call someone who knows more about a system than we do. An important message here is to remember the professionals and know they are available for assistance. Have you ever seen Holmes on Homes on HGTV? I love that show, but if you haven't you should check it out. It's about a Home Inspector who goes into recently purchased and inspected houses. He gives them a very thorough inspection and finds many problems that not-so-skilled inspectors may have missed. Mike Holmes and his team then usually tears apart the home to fix all of the issues and make it right. Now the point I want to make is Mike Holmes is a general contractor (GC) and knows more than I ever will about houses. However he is not a specialty contractor like an electrician or roofing contractor. He knows things to look for and when he sees significant issues or specialty issues, he calls in the specialty people. I'm sure he knows a lot about roofs, but doesn't a qualified contractor who does roofs every day probably a better fit than a GC...YES! Applying this same thought to our industry, if you have problems with your sound system and aren't up to par on soldering connectors, don't try to rip apart connectors and find the problem yourself. Call in the right people. Same goes for the rigging system and lighting system and so on.
Standards, common practices, technology, and codes are continuously being updated. What you may have learned 5, 10, or 20 years ago might not be up to today's standards. Have an expert come in and take a look at your system. Ask if there are any problems or potential issues. Perhaps your system can run more efficiently. Have your dimmer racks serviced, rigging system inspected, fall arrest system recertified, sound system re-tuned, and video system cleaned and adjusted. These actions should keep your venue up and running as well as make you aware of any problems or potential problems that need to be addressed.
Many of us are employeed at places that are understaffed, crew is overworked, facilities do not have enough funding, and probably have issues which need to be addressed. Know when to call a specialized professional for help or an inspection. And make sure to have the professional spend a couple hours to stick around to educate and train the staff.