As a production intern, there is a lot thrown at you during your shift and it can become overwhelming if you don’t have a lot of experience. It can also feel intimidating being a female in the field where you’re surrounded by so many men. That’s why I was looking forward to talking to Kristin Leimkuhler, an event producer with over 40 years of experience in stage production and event production. She’s also co-founded Tencue Productions, a corporate production company in 1984 which today serves major clients such as BMW, Google, and Cisco. Kristin is committed to using her technical and organizational skills to support all genres of performing arts. I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to hear about her journey.
I was eager to ask her about her experience as a woman in the industry. Earlier that morning, I watched a documentary about Local 16’s female stagehands. Local 16 is San Francisco’s IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) stagehand union. When I learned that women only make up 10% of Local 16, I instantly felt motivated to see that number increase.
Kristin started off by introducing herself to our CCP interns and I was comforted by how friendly she was. She described her work as “working invisibly, at the center of everything.” She told us that she started when she was 19-years-old and was 1 out of 125 stagehands, being the first female stagehand to ever work at Bill Graham Presents. Over the course of her career, she mentioned that she started out with an interest in audio, transitioned into lighting, and became mentored by her coworkers. She eventually transitioned out of rock and roll and into arts where she started her career in stage management.
It was inspiring to hear about everything that she was doing at such a young age. I thought about the circumstances and how intimidating it is to be surrounded by mostly men so it was crazy to think about how she was the only female at the time. In the last slide of her presentation, Kristin showed all of us a photo of stagehands working and asked, “what’s missing?” My immediate reply was “women”. She then said, “there’s only white men in this photo.” Closing the presentation with a statement so bold really left a lasting impression on me. The UC Theatre’s goal with our internship program is to diversify the music industry, and meeting someone who started out in this industry without a program like ours left me motivated to create my own path.
I left the theatre feeling more inspired than ever and it made me reflect a lot. I thought about what my future holds and what I need to do in order to achieve my goals. The more I’m in this industry, the more I see that a career in this field is never linear and we all go on our own separate paths.
– Jade Aguigui, Development Intern Concert Career Pathways 2018-19
Jade Aguigui is from Fairfield, California and attends Diablo Valley College, where she double majors in Music Industry Studies and Sociology, and hopes to prepare herself for a career that tackles social injustice within the music industry. Her main interest is to create inclusive spaces for women of color and LGBT+ folks because she has noticed a lack of representation in the industry. In addition to participating in Concert Career Pathways, she works with Another Planet Entertainment, Women in Music festival, and as a multimedia manager for an emerging rap collective.