Culture -

3 solutions to big production dreams on a small budget —

By Craig Davenport

Created on 10/21/2019

The first thing that caught my attention at my first CIY experience was the production!

It was 12 years ago, yet I still remember the way the lights, video, stage design and sound engaged me. It all presented the Gospel message and theme for the conference in a creative way.


Now as a member of this organization, I’ve seen the way we design unique stage and production elements for all of our touring events. Matt Foreman is the lead stage design and set builder for SuperStart, Believe, MIX and MOVE. One of Matt’s jobs is to consistently create these engaging production designs on a budget, and I asked him how. Here’s what he said …


1. We might need this …
“One of the most important parts of my job is recycling materials. At least half of the materials that we use to build each new stage set is recycled from a previous tour. We keep scrap metal, wood, Styrofoam, bolts, paint – you name it! We’ve got some of it stored away.”

2. What’s the plan?
“Another important part of staying on budget is to have a plan. We know going in what budget we have to stick to, and we plan out how much materials and time it will cost. If we can’t afford something that would be our first pick, we research to find other solutions or modify the design to a size that we can fit in the budget. Before we ever start putting the stage pieces together, we are confident that we can stay within budget.”

3. There’s a deeper meaning.
“It’s important to know WHY you’re doing any given stage design. If your answer is, ‘Because it would be cool,’ then you need to go back to the drawing board. The stage designs that we use serve a purpose – they help us communicate the Gospel in unique ways. We get the privilege to start conversations like, ‘This is why we’re making the stage look like a mad scientist’s lab ...’”

Bonus Question – Where do you get your inspiration for stage designs?
“I see a lot of things either on social media or on TV. I take pictures and stockpile those ideas in a folder on my phone. Sometimes I will make trips to Home Depot or Lowe’s just to walk around and see what materials they have that could help me bring new designs to life. Sometimes we will have an idea that I have no idea how to start building. I will find projects on DIY (Do It Yourself) network or Pinterest that are similar and start to plan out how I can create something new. Google’s Sketchup is a free program that has been a big help in the planning process.”


Using these tips will help you get the most out of your budget to create engaging stage designs that draw in your audience and allow you to present the message of the Gospel.


Craig Davenport is the Hatch production manager for Christ In Youth. His email is