Wednesday, October 20, 2021

TEA president elect Steve Birket talks about SATE and looks forward to IAAPA

Steve Birket PE, president elect of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) was interviewed for InPark by Morgan Richardson following TEA’s annual design conference, SATE ’14, Oct 2-3 in Sarasota, Florida USA. The Director of Birket Engineering talked about his industry background, some of the thinking behind SATE (Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, Experience) and offered a few words of advice for those who want to start careers in visitor attractions.

How did you become involved in the themed entertainment industry and what got you involved in the TEA?

I started working in the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Entertainment Department three months after my 16th birthday. It was fantastic fun and would eventually pay for my Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. My involvement with TEA came very early on: Around the time the association was beginning to form [TEA was officially founded in 1991] which was also during the development of Universal Studios Florida and (then) Disney-MGM Studios, Birket was asked to provide potential TEA member contacts from our database to TEA.

At SATE '14 in Sarasota
At SATE ’14 in Sarasota

What are the things TEA looks for when choosing a location for SATE?

We look for a site that might complement the rich SATE experience. The 2014 location at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, with its connection to Florida State University and the wonderful art and circus history, is a perfect example.

What are some of the most exciting trends you see happening in the industry right now?

We are seeing the explosive expansion and acceptance of what might have been in the past considered ‘Western-style’ themed entertainment to China and beyond. We are seeing the layering of new experiences on top of and within existing facilities. Anything can be realized, the technology exists, and the guest expects it.

What are the benefits of coming to an event like SATE?

SATE is a one-of-a-kind gathering of the creators of the world’s finest themed entertainment experiences, where you can hear the stories, explore the possibilities, and meet the designers, producers and operators.

Do you have a message for anyone out there who might be interested in themed entertainment but doesn’t know where to start?

Go to IAAPA. Invest in industry relationships. Attend TEA events. The industry is robust and the opportunities exist. Have fun!

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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