Award Winning Performance

Paging systems are often overlooked theses days but there are applications that are perfect for deployment as this case study for Sadler’s Wells Theatre illustrates.

Sadler’s Wells is a high profile performing arts venue in Clerkenwell, London. The venue features two performance spaces: a 1,500 seat main auditorium and the 180-seat Lilian Baylis Studio, with extensive rehearsal rooms, technical facilities and storage areas all housed within the same site.

By its very nature as a multi-functioning venue, Sadler’s Wells’ facility has a complicated layout that mixes public access areas and restricted performance and logistical areas. The venue needs instant, reliable and easy-to-use communications that can cope well with the layout of the buildings and movement of staff.

With the service team moving around the facility, often during performances, it is vital that the internal communications system is discreet enough not to disturb audiences. At the same time, it must be able to reach staff at a moment’s notice, particularly in an emergency situation that entails an evacuation procedure, such as a fire.


Having used Multitone’s pagers for a number of years, Sadler’s Wells was looking to refresh its communications. Pagers are the ideal communications tool for the venue’s staff, offering instant messaging to staff, whilst being discreet and simple to use.

Having discussed its needs with Multitone, the team at Sadler’s Wells decided to upgrade to the WP units, which were originally designed for use in the demanding environment of the Fire and Emergency Services.
Howard Clark, Support Services Manager at Sadler’s Wells commented, “We were impressed by the robust nature of the WP pagers, which are IP67 rated against water and dust and easily able to cope with the environment and treatment they are subjected to in the day-to-day running of the venue.”

The pagers are utilised in the daily running of Sadler’s Wells, but also have a specific use in terms of safety in the event of an emergency.

Clark elaborated, “When the fire panel is triggered next to our central admin team, they issue a message to staff carrying the pagers that there may be a situation and the Duty Manager or other designated individual is requested to check. Once the nature of the alarm has been ascertained, the pagers are used again to inform staff and allow them to evacuate visitors and themselves. The pagers are also ideal if we need to co-ordinate an evacuation to a specific exit if the situation warrants it.”

When a smoke or fire alarm is triggered, the paging system can be used to give exact details of the emergency without alarming visitors, helping the staff to maintain an orderly and safe dispersal of guests, performers and the rest of the team. Each pager can be assigned to a specific member of the team and therefore messages can be personalised if required, ensuring individuals are not disturbed unless necessary.


Key members of the facility’s staff all carry the new WP pagers. With their high levels of reliability in terms of signal (through a private network) and resistance to potentially rough handling, the WP range is well suited to constant use.

Clark added, “The WP pagers are ideal in an emergency situation as the vibration alert can be sensed even in a noisy environment, such as a fire alarm going off. They are also the perfect solution for our hard of hearing staff who need to be aware of a situation, especially a dangerous one. We can also alert the rest of the team if our hard of hearing staff are missing or may not be aware during an emergency, ensuring everyone is safe.

Practicality is a big feature of the new solution, as Clark commented “The devices are easily mounted on a belt and are very easy to use in all situations. Our Duty Manager uses one for five-six hours at a time around performances and it has proven to be comfortable and easy to use. They are particularly helpful for staff who are loading and unloading heavy items such as stage pieces, or deliveries to our store rooms.”

Howard explained, “At the moment the pagers are used to inform the team of an emergency situation and we then turn to our radios for direct communications. However, we believe we could further co-ordinate an evacuation using this technology, particularly as a ‘quiet alarm’ when we need to maintain calm. We already use them extensively during performances as a discreet way of messaging staff without disturbing our guests, so this ability has been well proven.”

Ed Says… The Multitone offering is the perfect solution for Sadler’s Wells’ needs, offering a practical, reliable and robust solution to the venue’s communications requirements. Following the highly successful implementation of the pagers, the services team is looking at the possibility of using them even more extensively during emergencies.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine