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Theatre’s exemption from lighting regulations could be overturned in five years’ time, industry is warned

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Theatre has been warned “not to get complacent” after the EU offered concessions on new energy proposals which threatened the future of lighting in the industry.

Theatre lighting has been under threat from the proposed Ecodesign and energy labelling regulations, which in their initial form would have seen the sale of most fixtures currently used in the industry banned from 2020, with an estimated cost of £1 billion to the sector.

Last month, the EU Commission released a revised version of the regulations, exempting a large number of Tungsten lamps currently used in live performance, making the majority of theatre equipment exempt from a ban.

However, lighting designer Rob Halliday – who has been fronting a campaign to save stage lighting – has warned that the EU Commission will re-evaluate the proposals in around five to seven years, and that he expects the Commission to remove the exemptions for theatre.

“I’m absolutely warning lighting designers not to become complacent. What they’ve got now is time to deal with the issue, because in the original time frame it was two years from now […] but now we’ve effectively got five to seven years,” he said.

Halliday added: “It’s delayed it, but the danger is if you delay it everyone goes, ‘Oh, never mind’, but you can’t because all we’ll have then is that in seven years time we’ll be back where we were in January going, ‘Oh my god, we can’t afford it’.

“And the EU is going to turn around and say, ‘Oh no, we gave you this time, and you’ve chosen not to do anything about it’.”

Halliday was speaking on behalf of the Association of Lighting Designers at an EU lighting regulations discussion event for fringe venues at Camden People’s Theatre earlier this month.

He advised theatres to start assessing what new equipment they will need to buy for the future, and to work out a fundraising plan.

“I think on a larger scale what the lighting industry needs to do is say, ‘We’re being made to do this, this isn’t our choice, and we need funding support to do that’, and if that come out of the existing funding we will stop being able to make new shows, or we’ll stop being able to fix the roof,” Halliday said.

“It feels like there needs to be a pot of money to help with that. That might not be from the Arts Council, that might be from the energy people because you’re saving energy,” he added.

EU lighting proposals: Everything you need to know

What is the issue?

  • The European Union is currently considering new regulations on the sale of lighting fixtures that would come into effect in 2020.
  • The Ecodesign regulations would ban the sale of lighting fixtures that do not meet a set standard of energy efficiency (85lm/W).
  • This is part of a drive to be more eco-friendly and reduce carbon emissions.
  • However, most of the theatre lighting that is currently in use does not meet the new regulations.

For more information on the EU lighting proposals, click here.

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