The #SaveStageLighting campaign aims to address the pending EU legisliation that will result in banning the use of stage lighting units.

A plea for support from Robbie Butler – Lighting Designer & #SaveStageLighting campaign coordinator.

As the theatrical landmark event of the year, the Olivier Awards, has now come and gone, a sinister cloud looms in the not too distant future. In a nutshell, this cloud comes in the form of proposed EU legislation, which would ban the sale of almost all stage lighting units.

On the face of it, this may seem like somewhat of a trivial issue. But when you examine the consequences of such a move, it is evident that this would cause cultural devastation across the continent.

Every size of venue will feel the impact of this – from local village halls, right the way up to the leading stadiums and arenas.

It will be immediate and overwhelming.

The shows we have all come to know and love would close as a result of this:

Hamilton, Wicked, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, The Mousetrap, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

The list is endless. They would all be lost within a matter of months.

If we can’t have shows, there is little use for the venues, and so many of the continent’s finest producing houses would face unavoidable closure.

If there are no venues, there are fewer jobs for actors, musicians, directors, designers, technicians, scenic artists, carpenters, ushers, bar staff, agents, critics, admin staff, accountants, cleaners, security…

The list doesn’t just stop at theatre shows – Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, Sziget, Tomorrowland would all be brought to their knees, as well as all of the individual tours of the leading music artists in Europe.

Put simply, to our knowledge there are no forms of live performance reliant on stage lighting that are currently capable of surviving with this legislation in place.

The #SaveStageLighting Campaign

In response to this, the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) has launched the #SaveStageLighting campaign to protect the future of venues and theatres across Europe against the devastating effect of the EU’s proposed Eco-design Working Plan 2016-2019.

The #SaveStageLighting Campaign must demonstrate to the EU Energy Directorate the widest possible cultural opposition to these proposals. Performances rely on theatrical lighting – it is the glue that binds every aspect of a performance together. Theatre lighting relies on having the right tools available to create just the right effect at just the right moment.

A successful outcome to the #SaveStageLighting campaign is essential to secure exemption for stage lighting from these proposals. The consequences of failure would be catastrophic to the entertainment industry and European culture.

What does the Eco-design Working Plan 2016-2019 entail?

The Eco-design Working Plan 2016-2019 proposes that after September 2020, only lighting fixtures that meet a certain level of energy efficiency will be allowed to be sold within the EU. In effect, they want to bring all stage lighting units under the same regulations that govern industrial and domestic lighting. The efficiency level that has been set is now so high that there are currently almost no products capable of achieving it, nor will there be within the given timescale.

What will the real impact of the plan be on European theatre?

At the first level, the impact is crippling in a financial sense. To replace stage lighting fixtures alone with new EU-approved sources would mean buying an entirely new rig of LED lighting units, which is costly in itself. However, the requirement for venues would be the full replacement of the building’s lighting infrastructure including dimmers, cabling and control consoles, as well as fixtures.

To budget for and implement this within two years will prove difficult for larger venues. For smaller venues it will be ruinous, and they will literally go dark.

More troubling still, however, is that currently very few theatrical-quality LED lighting fixtures come close to matching the beauty, subtlety, richness and poetry of tungsten light sources. The indication from LED manufacturers is that no new fixtures of this type will be able to meet these new regulations, even by 2020. The reality at the moment is that as units become irreplaceable, the entire repertoire of work reliant on those products will close until suitable replacement instruments are designed and manufactured.

With recent studies showing that stage lighting typically accounts for less than 5% of a theatre’s total energy consumption, focusing forced expenditure on the other 95% of a theatre’s energy consumption, where much greater energy savings are possible, surely makes greater economic sense.

We are appealing for support. Let’s do everything we can to #SaveStageLighting!



Follow us online at @SaveLighting on Twitter and @SaveStageLighting on Facebook.

From there you’ll easily be able to find our petition, links to your MEPs and ways to contact the EU directly.