NIDA’s first-ever female BFA Staging graduand prepares to launch her career

Scenery construction has traditionally been a pathway for males, but there are plenty of employment opportunities women can take advantage of. Final year BFA (Staging) student Taylor Hill discovered the possibilities of building and mechanics at school in her DT class in Year 11 and 12 and a Certificate III in-school VET Entertainment Training Package.

‘We had an awesome DT teacher,’ said Hill. ‘He taught us how to weld and introduced us to lots of machinery – like a CNC laser cutter that can cut angles and curves through thick timbers and steel. He really got me curious about building and I was hooked,’ she added.


‘When I discovered the NIDA Staging course which is all about building for the theatre and it leads to other areas like festivals and events. I was really excited. It’s about doing things that are hands on. We create construction drawings which describe how something is being put together, rather than the look of it. And you can’t mess up because someone is going to be walking on your set, so it has to be safe and strong.

‘The second year is all theory and paperwork, about hydraulics, project management, electrical engineering, WHS. I’ve discovered that I love project management. I didn’t think I could do that, but I really liked it,’ said Hill.

Professional contractors work alongside the students in the construction of the staging for the October productions at NIDA. ‘All of the contractors that are here create such a good environment. They’re like a window to the outside world. They prepare you for the reality of what’s outside.’

Taylor is aware that women are in a minority in the set construction area. ‘Everyone has to prove themselves at work from day one,’ she said, ‘But being a girl I think you feel it a little more than others.’

Taylor is building a drive to spin the framework of the revolve in Fraternal, all from scratch. ‘I chose to work on this show so I could build a revolve. I’m ecstatic with how it’s going’ she said. ‘We had to build it in sections as it didn’t fit in the welding bay as it was so big. I’ve worked on all the electrics and it’s my job to make it spin!’


‘The industry is thirsty for students with staging and set building skills,” said NIDA Head of Staging and Production Manager, Nicholas Day. ‘Go to any live event that has a stage, scenery, and transforming environments and you will see the skills that are required for technical designers and set builders.’

Employment prospects in the staging sector are healthy and Hill is positive about her future. ‘For my secondment I’ve been working with a staging company on music concerts. In January 2018 I’m going to do the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony on the Gold Coast. I’m really looking forward to that.’

‘Each Staging student is equipped with an in-depth knowledge about building a stage from start to finish – including engineering, automation and rigging, integrating technology into a stage, scenery, computer-aided design, metal fabrication and control systems. We encourage anyone who is interested in construction and creating with their hands to apply and develop a new pathway for 2018,’ said Day.

Find out about preparing for a career backstage with courses in props, costumes and stage management. The application period has been extended to 29 October to ensure all students have the opportunity to apply. Apply by visiting

Article and photos supplied by NIDA.


Bringing the Bird to Birdsville

Ever heard of the Big Red Bash? Well it’s the world’s most remote music festival, located in a small town called Birsdville; the heart of Australia’s outback.

We were honoured to work with the team at Geometry Global, David Malek Design and Event Engineering to create the Colonel’s Kitchen; a portable KFC kitchen, to bring chicken to the punters at the 3 day music festival.

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Women in the workshop? Crikey!

Apparently, the number of women working in trades is rising in Australia! To this we say HOORAY! But still, a report in 2016 states that Less than 10% of applicants for trade apprentices are women. Why is this? We thought we would take a closer look ….

Some say the reason for the low number of women taking up trades is lack of interest, but here at MNR we disagree.

Meg Solly, the co-founder of She skills, an organisation that runs workshops to equip women with timber construction skills, believes that one reason so few women enter trades is that they’re simply never taught that it’s something they can or should be doing. “I think there are opportunities that women are missing out on, as trades can be particularly well-paying and interesting jobs,” she says.

“We’re targeting these skills in the hope that we can increase the amount of female role models that are doing these things. So, we’ll have mums showing kids how to do these things, and then in 10 or 15 years, we’ll hopefully start to see more women represented in non-traditional trades and areas.”

Employers who actively wish to employ female apprentices can find it difficult to find them. Through research, there are a number of reasons for this:

LACK OF EXPOSURE AT SCHOOL (lack of opportunity to take technical or trade subjects or even to take up a school based apprenticeship)

PARENTAL ATTITUDES AND EXPECTATIONS (a negative attitude towards daughters working in a male dominated industry)

LACK OF GOOD CAREERS ADVICE (lack of knowledge and information from careers advisors)

THE IMAGE OF TRADES (“it’s a man’s world”)

LACK OF AWARENESS (low visibility of women in trades)

Reading up on this research, we thought we would take the opportunity to ask Keely, one of our experienced Set Builders at MNR Constructions what it’s like to work in a male dominated industry and how we can encourage more women to work in trades.

Do you think there is enough training and opportunities for young women to become a tradie?

It’s getting better but there’s a long way to go. It took me 6 months to get an apprenticeship. A lot of potential employers were honest and open in saying they weren’t comfortable working with women. But I think those ideals are changing as we gradually see more women in trades. I think government incentives for employers who hire women would be a great start.

Have you come across any issues working in a male dominated industry?

I get the occasional comment but fewer than I would have expected. They are usually from other tradies that are still acclimatising to seeing women working in a space they’ve not previously been seen in.

I got lucky with my colleagues here at MNR Constructions. They are not only supportive and encouraging, they have never seen me as anything less than entirely capable of my job.

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Media Walls

Media walls are a great way to spruce up an event, photo shoot, or exhibition to enhance your brand. Media walls come in many shapes and sizes;  a branded backdrop or wall, life-sized lettering, customised LED light displays, 3D display sets and many other styles.

The MNR team can build your next media wall for you, no matter how big or small. Some tips to consider when creating a media wall can be found in this article by the team at Event Planet:
How to create the ultimate event media wall

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Champions Award Finalists

We are proud to be selected as a Finalist in the 2017 Australian Small Business Champion Awards! This nomination is a testament to the work we put in day in and day out. We take pride in everything we do and we work hard as a team to provide a quality service to all of our clients, large or small.





Recycling Steel

We recently donated a pallet of leftover steel to Makerspace & Co; a place where people come together to learn, design and make things.

Makerspace put the steel to good use, teaching the next generation of makers how to weld and fabricate.

If you are in need of timber or steel offcuts, get in touch with us at





31 Ton Hole Punch

A big warm welcome to our new MNR machine; the 31 ton Hydraulic hole punch. This slick machine punches holes in aluminium, copper and steel! Very handy indeed.




Beach volleyball anyone?

We work hard here at MNR, so we like to play hard too! Nothing like a great team bonding day spent on the beach in winter playing volleyball.

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We are solar powered!

Exciting times here at MNR, we have fully installed solar panels to power our busy workshop. These panels complement our LED lighting to provide long lasting, safe, energy efficient, environmentally friendly, high quality, cost effective power to make our workshop shine even more brightly!

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Timber recycling for a good cause

At the MNR workshop we continually seek out ways to reduce any negative impact on the environment. From energy efficient, environmentally friendly lighting, to responsible paint disposal, to minimising waste by reusing, and recycling timber.

The local paper was impressed with our recycling initiative which involves donating our timber offcuts to Harry’s Shed for reuse in various projects for local communities and worthy causes. 

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