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Stage Curtains For Schools: A 2020-2021 Buying Guide

by | Aug 10, 2020

School auditoriums come in a range of shapes and sizes, so measuring for curtains can be difficult.  In addition, there are a multitude of curtain styles, finishes and fabric choices.  Lastly, budgets for the arts in education are constantly shrinking, adding an extra level of difficulty when making selections. 

Furnishing your auditorium with new curtains can add so much to the aesthetics and overall atmosphere, so we have tried to make all these choices easier.  We will walk you through how to pick the best curtain for your school stage, going over the types of curtains, fabric selection and how to determine size requirements.

Types of School Stage Curtains

Stage curtains come in a variety of styles, so it is important to identify which type you want before anything else.  The most common types are backdrops, masking curtains and main curtains (proscenium).

  • Proscenium curtains are the decorative ones that separate the audience from the stage. These are often accompanied by a coordinating valence to hide any hardware or provide additional decorative elements.
  • Backdrops hang upstage and are generally flat. They can either be dark in color to provide a solid backdrop, lighter in order to reflect color or illuminate with lighting or even painted depending on the scene needed in a production.
  • Masking curtains are usually black and are meant to hide anything from actors to stagehands to hardware. The traveler version of this type of curtain can be moved quickly across the stage.  This gives performers the change to hide part of the stage or divide the stage into two scenes easily.

The different types of curtains also generally come with different finishes.  For example, backdrops are usually sewn flat, while proscenium curtains are pleated to add fullness.

Curtain Fabric Options

What is the best fabric for your school theater curtains?  There are many options available.  Velour is the most common fabric for traditional school curtains.  However, cotton, polyester and muslin are also popular choices.  To abide by federal regulations, schools must also choose fabrics which are flame retardant for safety reasons.

Budget Considerations when Choosing Curtains

Budget is almost always a consideration when selecting curtains.  Once you determine the budget you have available, chose styles and fabrics that fall within it.  Size generally can’t be adjusted.  So, this may mean opting for a more affordable fabric in order for you to get the color or style you desire.

Lining can be a nice addition if it fits the budget.  This adds to the level of light blockage as well as protects the main curtains from damage due to everyday use.

How to Measure for your Stage Curtains

The first step in purchasing new stage curtains is to know what size you need.  This can often be accomplished simply by using the existing curtains you have in place.  Take a look at the tags on these curtains as many will often show the exact dimensions of the material.  If you aren’t this lucky, you can also measure the curtains in order to note their height and width.

For the height, measure from the top and bottom edges of the fabric.  If you are switching to a curtain type that requires additional length (ie grand drapes), add that extra length to your measurement as necessary.

Width is slightly more complicated if your curtains are pleated.  In this case, measure along the top of the existing curtains to get your width.  If you have curtains that part in the middle, be sure to measure each side’s width as in rare cases, school auditoriums may be off-centered and require panels of different widths in order to meet in the center.

If you don’t currently have curtains in place, measure the width of your stage opening and for curtain height, from the floor up to the bottom of the track carrier on your curtain track.

One Stop Shop at A.T. Equipment Sales

After choosing the best type and size curtains for your school, you must also consider the equipment needed for installation and operation.  In addition to theater curtains and stage drapes, A.T. Equipment Sales provides theater equipment for schools, such as like durable stage rigging equipment, suspended and anchored draw curtain machines, counterweight sets and more.  Contact us today to discuss your needs.

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