Join the 2025 ASTC – USITT Student Venue Renovation Challenge

May 3, 2024

ASTC and USITT are pleased to announce the eighth competition between college students and ASTC theatre consultants.

A career in theatrical design or technical work isn’t the only choice for students with an interest in theatre. In an effort to expose students to other available career paths, ASTC and USITT teamed up in 2014 to create the ASTC-USITT  Venue Renovation Challenge. By working together with a professional ASTC theatre consultant as a mentor, students learn about how venues are designed, older venues are renovated modernized and improved, or spaces are transformed into performance venues.

2025 will mark the eighth Renovation Challenge. The Challenge is held in odd-numbered years and presented to the public as part of the USITT Conference.

In the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century, most American theatre and performance spaces had an ASTC member involved in their creation. ASTC and USITT each advocate for the support of the arts and the future of live performance. The primary goal of the Challenge is to introduce students to the profession of theatre consulting. They will learn about the elements that go into a building for the arts, beyond what they might consider in the course of designing and mounting productions.

The Challenge

Working together with a professional theatre consultant as a mentor, students will discover and explore how performance venues are designed or renovated and the challenges theatre consultants solve in creating the unique facilities theatre professionals work in every day. Students will learn to see performance spaces differently and will be exposed to career paths within the entertainment industry that they might not otherwise be aware of.

Two cash prizes are available for the winners of the competition. One team will be presented the ASTC – Edgar L. Lustig Award, a $3,000 cash prize. A second prize, the USITT – Director’s Award of $1,000 will be presented to a team that shows special merit. The Awards will be presented at the end of the team presentations and will be announced nationally by ASTC and USITT and noted on both organizations’ websites and other social media platforms.

Teams may consist of undergraduate and/or graduate students and will be under the supervision of a Faculty Advisor. Teams will select a theoretical project for a building that is on or near the team’s campus. They will survey and study the current conditions and develop a plan to transform the subject space to meet the team’s stated concept goals.

Potential projects might include:

  • Substantial improvements to an existing theatre.
  • Conversion of non-performance space into a new performance space.
  • Changing the form and/or function of an existing theatre.

Faculty Advisors are encouraged to consider including this project in their curriculum for academic credit as an independent study or seminar class.

The Awards

  • The Edgar L. Lustig Honor Award is named after a founding member of ASTC who served over 25 years as its secretary-treasurer – $3000.
  • The USITT Director’s Award – $1000.

The Challenge Team’s final submittal and public presentation given at the USITT Annual Conference is judged by a jury of ASTC members who are not serving as current Mentors.

Student Travel Assistance Stipends
To help students defray the cost of attending the conference, $600 travel stipends are available. Five stipends are available for the teams to request financial travel assistance. Travel assistance can be requested by the Faculty Advisors beginning October 28, 2024. The stipends will be awarded on a first come basis until all five are awarded. The stipends are limited to one per team.

For more information, visit the ASTC website here!