ASTC – USITT Venue Renovation Challenge


A career in theatrical design or technical work isn’t the only choice for theatre students. In an effort to expose students to other available career paths, ASTC and The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (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, or spaces are transformed into performance venues.

2019 marks the fifth anniversary of the Renovation Challenge. It was decided that holding the Venue Renovation Challenge every other year would be a better schedule. It should also allow more schools and students to consider participating. A nice plus for the entrants in having it every other year is the prize money will be higher for both the Edgar L. Lustig Honor Award and the new Director’s Award.

In the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st century, most of our American theatre and performance spaces had an ASTC member involved in their creation. ASTC and USITT advocate for the support of the arts and the future of live performance. The Renovation Challenge’s main goal is to intrigue theatre designers and technical-directors with the possibility of pursuing a path in theatre consulting by having to consider an array of elements that go beyond a production and make for a great venue for performance as a great theatre consultant.

The Challenge

Schools forming a team of one or more students, whether graduate or undergraduate, will submit a theoretical project based on an existing structure on or accessible from the team’s campus. Once approved, they will work with an ASTC Mentor to survey and study the current conditions and develop a plan to renovate or transform the subject space to meet the team’s stated goals. Potential projects include:

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

The Awards

Starting with the 2019 Challenge, the monetary awards have substantially increased.

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

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.

Application and Project Submittals

Challenge Submittal Materials
2019 Challenge Dates and Deadlines


Previous Renovation Challenges

2017 Challenge
2016 Challenge
2015 Challenge
2014 Challenge

This slideshow shows portions of  presentations by the Honor Award winners  from 2014 to present.

  • fsu-2017a

  • U-at-buffalo-2016r