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Philips allays theatre designers’ fears over future of tungsten lamps

Philips – one of the leading suppliers of lamps to the theatre industry – has moved to allay fears that the sector is at risk of losing tungsten lights, claiming there is not going to be a “hard stock Armageddon”.

Lighting designers have been campaigning to ensure that manufacturers do not stop producing tungsten lamps in the wake of a ban on retailers selling incandescent light bulbs to the domestic market.

They have raised concerns that the ban could result in manufacturers such as Philips reducing the production of certain tungsten light bulbs, which are used by designers for the natural and warm light they provide, and the fact they can be faded up and down. Designers have warned that new LED lighting is not suitable for creating the effects some productions require.

However, at a meeting of designers last week, John Gorse, technical marketing manager at Philips, said that – in terms of the legislation – “the amount of products that are going to be specifically affected is nothing really to worry about”.

“From this year on, the changes facing the entertainment industry are minimal,” he said, adding: “You will still be able to get access to virtually all of your tungsten portfolio for a considerable period of time to come.”

However, Gorse – who is also chairman of the Lighting Industry Association lamps technical committee – admitted the commercial viability of some products could make it difficult for lighting designers to get hold of particular lamps in the future.

He said: “From time to time, we as a business can no longer, commercially, carry on making some lamps, but we have not discontinued any entertainment lamps on the basis of legislation.”

Gorse also revealed there were loopholes in current legislation banning tungsten bulbs for the domestic market that would enable theatre designers to access lamps that might be banned in the UK.

For example, he said overseas manufacturers who were still making products that the industry needed could supply them to the UK, provided they were marked as being as “specialist” for the theatre and film industries.

He also said new LED lights could be dimmed, like tungsten, as long as manufacturers of dimming equipment supported this.

At the same meeting, LIA technical manager Lawrence Barling added that tungsten halogen lamps could be used by lighting designers as an alternative to some banned tungsten bulbs. These tungsten halogen bulbs face a ban from 2016, but Barling and Gorse said talks were underway to keep them in use beyond then.