Mar 8, 2021

Spokane's Stagehand Union Marks One Year without Live Events

It’s a March morning in downtown Spokane. The crisp but comfortable air feels like spring is around the corner.

It’s still quiet for a Saturday, but people are starting to gather outside the Convention Center. Suddenly, you hear the rattling clatter of rolling casters on the pavement. People dressed in black are pushing large equipment cases down the sidewalk. Is someone moving into a downtown office? Construction in Riverfront Park? The start of a parade?

Stick around to watch. You’ll be treated to a unique sight of the Spokane stage professionals who work behind the scenes to make Broadway touring shows and other events run perfectly every time.

On Saturday, March 13 at 12:00pm, the Local 93 chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) will hold a rally to mark one full year without live events in Spokane. The “Box Push” will draw attention to the pandemic’s effect on an often unseen segment of local workers and our economy.

Normally, before you arrive at the First Interstate Center for the Arts (FICA), Spokane Arena, or Convention Center for a show, concert, graduation ceremony, or convention, IATSE Local 93 members have already been hard at work setting up. But since last March, there have been no events to employ 70 union members and a backup list of more than 100 additional workers.

For each Broadway tour in Spokane, the carpenters, electricians, sound technicians, riggers, wardrobe personnel, and props, hair, and makeup specialists of IATSE transform the FICA stage from a dark, empty space into a brilliant, magical world. In a day or less, they unload scenery, costumes, and equipment from semi-trucks and get everything assembled and in place. Before the first audience arrives, they’ve mastered complex sequences of cues for each lighting effect, microphone level, and scene or costume change.

The Box Push on March 13 will be an informational rally, not a protest or demonstration. IATSE Local 93 hopes to boost awareness of the local entertainment personnel who have gone for months without working at events. The rally will advocate for preparation and planning to bring audiences back safely and return the entire industry to work.

If you love theater and miss going to shows, come to the breezeway between the Convention Center and First Interstate Center for the Arts on March 13 at noon to show your appreciation for the members of IATSE Local 93. Cheer them on, express your support, and let them know you share their eagerness for live events to start again.

And when you’re at a show again enjoying the onstage talent, take a moment to appreciate the talent backstage as well. Clap a little longer and louder to thank them for all they do to make live entertainment possible in Spokane!

IATSE Local 93 is a valued sponsor of the STCU Best of Broadway Series and a partner in our ShowKidz program, providing complimentary tickets to organizations who serve vulnerable youth in our community.  Follow IATSE Local 93 on Facebook.


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