Sustainable Stage Design

Like most of you, I didn’t have a big budget for stage design, but wanted to achieve a great look nonetheless.

Sustainable Stage Design
Theatrical fabric is a great way to make a stage pop! If you are going to use fabric, it must have a fire certification. Purchase fabric from theatrical fabric companies such as Rosebrand or Dazian. Using fabric from the local fabric store is illegal and dangerous. Your church is a performance space and is governed by the same standards as a theater.
Sustainable Stage Design
Theatrical fabric is a great way to make a stage pop! If you are going to use fabric, it must have a fire certification. Purchase fabric from theatrical fabric companies such as Rosebrand or Dazian. Using fabric from the local fabric store is illegal and dangerous. Your church is a performance space and is governed by the same standards as a theater.

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For years, churches have focused on the audio experience but left the visual part of the experience kind of plain.

Recently, that has changed to where it is no longer the case.

Stage design has become a normal and expected part within most churches. I spent many years as a Tech Director, building a new stage design every month. We were responsible for matching it to our sermon series and trying to come up with new and fresh looks for 12 months a year, which was a big challenge. I had to get pretty creative and smart about how I pulled that off.

Like most of you, I didn’t have a big budget for stage design, but wanted to achieve a great look nonetheless.

Guardrails both with budget and materials will make you more creative. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is true.

So how did I do it?

Well, here are some ways I found to have sustainable stages:

Be Creative

Sketch out what you want the stage to look like. I took a picture of my blank stage and transferred that to a simple line drawing that I could sketch on. Then, I just started coming up with ideas.  Nothing was too crazy, although much of it was impractical. This got my creative juices flowing and was fun. It also gave me a place to start.

Define a Budget and Stick To It

Get with your overseers and get them to commit to a budget. Creativity actually increases when you are constrained by a dollar amount. It forces you to be industrious and inventive.

Use Common Items

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ikea are your friend. Take a trip to these stores and walk the aisles. I have spent many afternoons looking at construction materials and trying to figure out how I could use them as part of a set at our church. I’ve used roofing insulators, bubble wrap, and chain link.

The 1st Row Rule

Sets only have to look good from the first row of seats. Things may not look amazing when you are right up on them. This is the “Hollywood magic” that makes set design fun. This is a common practice on theater and movie making. NOTE: This distance may be less if you are using cameras, so when you build sets, look through the viewfinder and see what it looks like.

Flat Paint is Your Friend

Never use gloss paint as it actually reflects less light than flat. It also looks uneven from a distance. Flat paint looks better and is easier to touch up. Set pieces will get dinged and scuffed and you will have to touch the setup. Flat paint make is so much easier.


More About Van Metschke
Van is the Church Relations guy at CCI Solutions located in Olympia, Wash. He is co-host of the Church Tech Weekly podcast. Van spent almost two decades on church technical staff and has accrued almost more than 30 years experience in live production and system integration. He can be found on Twitter @thesoundbooth and can be reached by email at van@churchtecharts.org.
Get in Touch: vmetschke@ccisolutions.com    More by Van Metschke

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Article Topics

Visual Arts · Stage Design · Team Management · Budgeting · Budgeting · Certificate · Fabric · Ministry · Recycle · Stage Design · All Topics

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