Located less than 30 miles northwest of Denver is the eco-friendly college town of Boulder, Colo. Boulder is a magnet for artists, musicians, and young tech-savvy startup companies. The town is home to Z2 Entertainment, which owns the Boulder Theater and Fox Theatre, Boulder’s two largest music venues for nationally touring acts.
Karen Shaviv is the production manager at Z2 Entertainment. A 15-year industry veteran, Shaviv started out as an intern at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. Today her roles include light design, sound engineering, and house, stage and staff management at the Boulder Theater. Along with artist and crew relations, heavy lifting of band and stage equipment as well as technical production aspects are all part of the job.
Out of 40 employees in Z2’s Boulder Theatre production department, only four are women, including Shaviv’s assistant. Two of those female employees work light design and only one — Shaviv herself — is a sound engineer.
So why aren’t more women working in these departments compared to their male counterparts? “It’s kind of intimidating,” Shaviv said. “It’s not a very warm and nurturing environment. You have to tough it out and not everyone has that stamina — men and women.”
The Fox Theatre’s assistant production manager Lindsey Dubey says commanding an air of respect is necessary in her position. That comes naturally to her, she says, but she’s also had to build a stellar reputation. It’s a requirement on the job which is only possible with hard work, persistence and time.
At only 26 years old, Dubey’s earned that stellar reputation around the Colorado festival scene, working stage managing positions everywhere from Hanuman Festival in Boulder to Rocky Mountain Folk Festival in Lyons, Colo. Dubey worked her way up from an internship at Z2 after graduating from Michigan State and says that although she’s constantly being challenged in her career, each day is rewarding and only pushes her further in her career.
“I definitely get that, like, ‘Oh honey, can you grab me this?’ or ‘Oh sweetie, can you grab me that?’ Like really, would you call this guy ‘sweetie’? Would you rub his lower back and say, ‘Can you grab me this?’ I’ve definitely had to yell at guys and say, ‘Hey, my name is Lindsey and if you need anything, you can talk to me. You don’t need to touch my lower back’.”
While she says her smaller stature does play a role in how she’s perceived by her male crew members, everyone who works in production has a part to play. “It’ll be 3 a.m., and I’m still going to be pushing cases with everyone else,” Dubey said. “A lot of it is being wise and not trying to do more than I can, but also not being afraid to get dirty with all the guys.”
“For every dark moment that’s in this industry, there are so many bright ones,” Dubey said. “It’s better than working in a cubicle. I’d lose my mind.” Dubey says she has questioned her decision to work in production, but the answer is clear. “I look at myself, and I’m like: I have a college degree. What am I doing? But it’s because as a kid I said I wanted to work in the music industry, and here I am.”
Dubey says that on her days off, she’s at venues listening to music. She works for a company that believes in her and is like a family. And the end of the day, it’s all worth it to do something she truly loves.
“When you work with that sold out metal show, and the (band’s) crew at the end of the night is like, ‘You are better than any guy that was in here tonight and I would totally take you on the road if I could,’ those are the nights that you’re like, ‘Oh, I get it.’”