Professional Sound - August 2017 | Page 9

INPUT A Helping Hand Robert Vernon on CITT/ICTS’s New Mentorship Program CITT/ICTS is rolling out a new mentorship program for its members, beginning with a roundtable discus- sion and subsequent breakout sessions at the upcoming edition of Rendez-vous. Hosting those sessions is Robert Vernon, who boasts a long and varied career in theatrical and event production. Vernon is a former CITT/ICTS president and chair of its Ontario section and currently works as a scenic constructor at The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He joins us here to speak about the new program, developed in tandem with former CITT/ICTS Presidents Michael Harris and Graham Frampton, with plenty of input from the membership. PS: First off, tell me about CITT/ICTS’s mentorship program and what informed the decision to launch a formal program like this at this point in time. RV: The idea of the program is not new to the CITT/ICTS. It is something that we have considered at various times throughout our 25-year history. Early in the institute’s incarnation, we did not have the resources to expedite this ambitious endeavor. The goals are two-fold. First, to provide a resource for emerging professionals building their careers in entertainment production, and second, for long-serving individuals to give something back to the industry. At Rendez-vous 2015 in Vancouver, then President Michael Harris announced that it would be his goal in his last year in office to establish the program. At that conference, a parallel session on transferring the knowledge and skills to the next generation of theatre techs established that the membership had the drive and the interest to pursue this. At Rendez-vous 2016 in Winnipeg, a working group was estab- lished to look at the specifics of instituting such a program. A second working group session at the Ontario Section – Ignition 2017 event further re- fined what we expected to do with the program  PS: What makes mentorship an important initiative for the theatre technology indus- try specifically? RV: As stated previously, the broader goals of providing guidance to people considering or just starting their careers and the satisfaction for established practitioners to help those individu- als. The working group discussions expanded on this to define mentoring as a two-way exchange of information – long-term professionals also learning from new workers. It will be of value to the established career technician who is looking for advice and encouragement to change their career path. An important aspect of the mentoring program is to provide the emerging entertainment crafts person the opportunity to see how the training they have received, be it in a formal educational scenario or on-the-job, relates to practical work scenarios.    PS: At which point in their careers should budding theatre technicians consider work- ing with a mentor to further their careers? RV: We all have had mentors in our lives; for most it was a teacher or teachers who took specific interest in us and what we were learning. Others didn’t find that until they started their careers and found a supervisor or experienced co-worker willing to take on that role. It depends on the individual to determine when they are ready to seek a mentor.  PS: What are your goals for the mentorship sessions at Rendez-vous 2017? Who would you like to see in attendance and what are you hoping they take away from the experience? RV: My personal goal for Rendez-vous is to see a formalization of the mentoring process. In past conferences, mentoring has taken place in an informal setting with delegates hooking up with one another on an ad hoc basis. My plan for the mentoring session is to establish guidelines for being a mentor or mentee and to see the mentoring dynamic extend outside of the con- ference. It is my hope to see CITT/ICTS viewed less in the light of the technology of entertain- ment and more of the people of entertainment production.  PS: How can CITT/ICTS members or potential members get involved with this initiative? RV: Three ways. First, attend Rendez-vous 2017 in Saint John, NB. Second, the national office is developing a new section of our website where members and interested parties can learn about mentoring and identify the areas for which they would like to be a mentor or mentee. Finally, they can contact their section and ask to bring the mentorship program to their region. PS: Why should potential mentors get involved in the program, and what types of traits are ideal for mentors from CITT/ICTS’s perspective? RV: The short answer to this question is the CITT/ICTS tagline, “Connecting the Live Perfor- mance Industry.” The Institute was founded on the premise of networking for professionals across Canada. Given the vastness of the country, networking is vital for the health and well-being of the industry in Canada. Individuals can use networking to become known in the industry and thus build their careers. PROFESSIONAL SOUND 9 PROFESSIONAL SOUND 9