IN THE SPOTLIGHT
People Behind the Scenes
Who keeps our university in top shape? It’s the People Behind the Scenes! Meet JP Osnes, technical director, Macky Auditorium Concert Hall.
A concert hall technical director assembles all the necessary elements, such as skilled labor, equipment and scheduling, in order to help performing artists create an escape from the workaday world for all the other folks (the audience) who have to toil 9 to 5 with “real” jobs. To do this, I hire, contract and train a team of talented and skilled artisans, technicians and trades-people; buy, rent, borrow, repair or beg equipment and materials; create and maintain a schedule; enforce compliance with a growing number of building and safety codes, employment and labor policies; and negotiate business relationships. Event production involves pretty much every trade and skill necessary to create cities or universities or even states. We achieve the same thing, but on a much smaller scale for a discreetly limited time period and with a great deal of fakery and illusion. The result is hopefully entertaining, often enlightening and always worth the ticket price.
What do you like best about being a part of the CU community?
Macky serves the Boulder arts community and the entire Colorado Front Range in addition to the CU-Boulder campus. Being part of a large state school provides an artistically and intellectually fertile environment in which to support and present the arts. Macky is the only state owned performing arts facility without an explicit educational or commercial mission. Nearly 100 years ago, Andrew J. Macky wanted to endow a premier concert hall and with respect to his wishes, I strive to balance the university’s academic priorities with our primary mission of supporting the performing arts. Being part of CU allows us to fulfill this mission with few commercial pressures or risks. The fact that an arts facility has needs that are difficult to meet in a state educational institution is part of the challenge.
What is your favorite activity/interest outside of work?
I live five blocks from my place of work, so spending time with my family is easy. My wife, Beth, is a professor of Theatre and Dance. My children have spent a lot of their childhood seeing performances and working on stage, too. James Kimball, a CU philosophy professor, gave me a ‘pearl of wisdom’ years ago: “You are what you do. Making distinctions between work and non-work is a dangerous self-deception.” I work in the arts, I play in the arts and I live in the arts. This is especially odd since I have degrees in biochemistry and MCDB.
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