Early Planning, Late Arrivals Part of Mainstage Manager’s Job

By Stan Friedman

KNOXVILLE, TN (July 23, 2012) – The CHIC 2012 worship band was playing Tuesday night but a problem had developed. Francis Chan, the evening’s speaker, had not arrived. The plane that was flying him to Knoxville had been delayed due to mechanical problems—two flat tires.

This wasn’t like one of those staged reality home makeover shows where an entire kitchen floor and set of cabinets are installed in the last 20 minutes. This was really real.

“Fortunately, he did get here just in the nick of time,” said Jim Condap, the Mainstage manager. “He arrived about 30 minutes before he was supposed to go on.”

Keeping his cool and preparing for any situation is part of Condap’s job at CHIC. But so are a number of other responsibilities that include booking the bands and speakers, as well as being the point person for interacting with them from the initial contact to the time they leave the arena.

Condap also coordinates the different companies that are hired to run the sound, lighting, and other technical aspects of the production, as well as making sure that all the transitions go smoothly during the service.

“It’s a lot of choreography,” said Condap, whose “day job” is ministry director of Pilgrim Pines Conference Center.

This year, the pyrotechnics that lit up the stage during the Skillet concert and the closing worship service added another issue to oversee. Approval was needed from the fire marshal before those could be set off and he came before the evening’s event to observe some tests.

CHIC 2015 may seem far off to some people, but Condap, who has been involved with the Mainstage preparations since 2000, and his crew will start talking this fall to prepare. Bands and speakers generally are booked at least two years out, Condap said.

Condap became involved with Mainstage production because his previous career was in the music industry working with artists. He is quick to note that he works with a team whose members bring their own expertise. That expertise has been critical to designing the stage and all other technical aspects that have left the crowds in the Thompson-Boling Arena in awe.

Condap knows that his responsibilities seem glamorous to some people because he gets to be backstage and interact with bands and speakers. Contrary to what people might think, backstage is very much no frills.

Almost the entire area, including the dressing room, has cinderblock walls, bare concrete floors, and plain furniture. The food is not extravagant.

Condap said he has enjoyed working with the speakers and bands. “They’ve all just been great down-to-earth people. They have families with them. They’re often taking care of their kids.

“They all just want to see kids come to Christ and grow in their relationship with him,” he said.

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