Portable Stages vs. Permanent

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Portable Stages vs. Permanent

June 20, 2018

Portable stage for church

When faced with the decision of a permanent or portable stage system, it is important to look at the types of events you will host and how often these events will require you to transform the space. In this post we will explore the reasons and provide you some points of consideration you need to explore to help make the best facility decision.

Portable stages have many advantages over permanent, built-in stages. You may have seen portable staging platforms in the past that looked very unprofessional or out of place for the application. This makes it harder to consider applying the temporary product to a space that has special finishes or ornate millwork that is hindered by the temporary system. Some preplanning and selection of the right accessories can make the system look built in even though it can be moved at a moment’s notice. Some people try to build their own DIY temporary stages which can be both dangerous and fail to allow the advantage of a well-designed system that is made for the purpose of portability and performance. The end result should be a platform that is just as stable and sturdy as a ground floor. As noted, the portable stages can also be outfitted with the same accessories that you would see on a permanent stage, such as chairs, backdrops, skirting, guardrails, ramps, stairs, and more to give it a finished appearance that is appealing for both the performers and patrons.

When doing your evaluation, consideration of the following areas will be important.

What Types Of Events Are You hosting?

If you are hosting the same event or type of event in your facility, then it is acceptable to build a permanent stage as this will help define your performance space and give continuity every time you host the event. It will also allow you to build in your sets pieces and special effects locations to keep consistency. If your plan is to host multiple events and redesign the area to meet the requirements of the next group, then a portable stage is a much better option.  It can be set in different configurations to meet the specific needs of different events. For example, a commencement ceremony stage may need to be configured differently than a stage for an orchestra or a concert.

portable stage
A gymnasium can be converted into a conference center.


That is part of the flexibility that comes with having a portable stage. Most facilities host many different events, so it’s beneficial for them to have this capability. In the performing arts environment, you can even move portable platforms between the practice room and performance area so that performers are practicing on the same surface that the live event will be held on. This help to build confidence in the performer when they have the level of familiarity.

One Location vs. Multiple Performance Spaces

In today’s world, the expectation is to allow your patrons full access to utilize different parts of your facility to hold their event. This may include a pre-function party in the lobby or an out-front promotion of the event. The permanent stage is very difficult to utilize for these activities. A portable stage can provide you the support you need to conduct these activities to keep everyone happy. This is not the case if you are facility that is only set for a certain event and you can build in your additional locations like your main stage and handle the flow of the event as needed. In either case, you need to think through your long-term vision and plans to make sure you have the right system.

Flexible Height Options vs. Fixed Stage Height

Do you have a space that can be sectioned off for more intimate events or ceiling limitations in certain locations? A permanent stage limits both the height and feel of the room by keeping the status quo and will drive how the event can be hosted and the room orientation. The ability to make the room or performance more intimate requires the ability to allow the stage height to match this change. You do not want a performer or speaker to be way up in the air and make everyone crane their neck to see them. Anyone that has ever sat in the front row of the movie theater can appreciate how uncomfortable this is. It is a major detractor from the patron experience and takes the intimacy out of the performance.

portable stage
A portable stage can support different types of events because of the flexible height options.


Secondarily, if you have a room that contains soffits or balconies around the edge that limit the heights for the performance areas, without a portable option, your utilization of the space will be limited. If you were considering adding a head table, speaker platform or small band stage, you will need to move it off the wall and put it in the main flow area of the room. This not only changes the balance of the room, it limits the capacity of the space for either chairs or tables. A portable stage offers a solution to overcome this limiting situation by providing different height or adjustable height supports to allow you to use them in any location in the space. This just contributes further to keeping your customers happy and your space flexible.

Multiple Performance Surface Options vs. One Surface Option

The permanent stage can be built in such a way to match the type of event you are hosting. Be it a sprung floor for the dancers or a black painted surface for your drama team. This comes with many advantage as you can meet the needs of your users and give them exactly what they want. The down side is that if you want to host different events, the surface that is good for one does not always translate for the other performances. In addition, when damage occurs to the floor, it is a major undertaking to get it back to performance ready condition.

In the case of a portable stage, you have many options for your performance surface. This allows you to be flexible and support multiple types of events. If you want to change the surface, all you need to do is change the deck. Some stage manufactures offer the option for decks with two sides that can be turned over depending on the event. This gives you even more flexibility from your equipment. It also is a much simpler option to react to damage by replacing the panel in question. Your stage can be operational very quickly.


Using some of these areas of consideration when making the decision about your facility’s stage can help direct what will be best for your application.  These are long term decisions, as once you decide, you will most likely live with the results for many years to come. Speaking with architects, consultants, and stage experts can also be a great resource to help with the decision.

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