White House Lighting Designer Visits Drama Students

Al Crawford of Arc3design and former lighting designer for the White House visited the UConn dramatic arts department to speak to students. (Courtesy/ayikodans)

It’s not every day that students sit in the same room as an artist who designed lights at the White House. That day was Wednesday and that artist was Al Crawford, founder and CEO of Arc3design.

Crawford came to the graduate design lab in the dramatic arts department to speak to students in theatrical design and technology program. 

A former visiting professor of design at the University of Connecticut, Crawford offered insight and advice to students in attendance about the possibility of success as a freelance lighting designer and turning the skills he acquired through experience, education and partnerships with artists and companies of the industry into a successful company that has designed for state dinners at the White House.

“The moment I learned I wanted to build a business was by mistake,” Crawford said to those in attendance.

As if the White House wasn’t enough, Crawford and his company are responsible for the production of all sporting events that come through Madison Square Garden. Crawford himself is also the lighting director of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a company that many aspiring student-artists, including some of those at the talk. 

“As a student pursuing a dual degree in theatrical design and business management, hearing Mr. Crawford speak about his company and design work provided me an insight on how I could merge my interests into a successful and exciting career,” said Andrew Berardi, a sixth-semester theatrical design and technology and business major.

Crawford is a strong voice of success in the theater industry and a role model for aspiring students. He was open and generous with his experiences and gave great advice. He identified the importance of the skillsets a designer develops as being just as substantial as maintaining relationships with the people one works with in the theater. 

Crawford himself looks for people that not only have the diverse skillsets necessary to work in the theater, but also those people that are creative and fun to work with. What separates the people in Crawford’s company is in part being pleasing to work with and recognizing what it is that makes his associates, including some UConn alumni, human.

“I think it's an amazing opportunity whenever we [lighting design students] get to speak to outside sources working in our field of study,” said Danielle Verkennes, a second-semester MFA lighting student. “Al Crawford, who owns his own company, allowed us see some insight into other possible directions our careers could move.”


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.