Save Stage Lighting – Update

A few months ago, the European Union (EU) proposed a new set of regulations in order to govern lighting products sold in the UK. However, if the legislation were to be passed as written it would dramatically affected the equipment currently used for entertainment lighting purposes (including tungsten, arc and LED fixtures) – and so heavily impact all of those working in this field, including lighting designers, suppliers and manufacturers.

In reaction to these proposals, the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) launched the #SaveStageLighting campaign, which we helped promote online, on social media and to our friends and colleagues. A measure of the campaign’s success is the 81000+ signatures its online petition has received. You can still add yours here.

A more important measure was that the entertainment lighting industry was invited to a meeting with the EU’s DG Energy, the department responsible for these regulations, to discuss the impact they would have. The meeting was led by PEARLE – the pan-European theatre producers league, with other attendees including SOLT (the Society of London Theatre), the trade associations PLASA, VLPT (Germany), OETHG (Austria) and the user associations the ALD, the IALD and the Association of Swedish Lighting Designers.

The result of that meeting was a recognition by the EU that lighting for entertainment did require different treatment from general domestic and industrial lighting. The entertainment lighting industry was asked to formulate a specific, technically based exemption for lighting used for performance.

Over the last few weeks a team led by Adam Bennette of PLASA has drafted such an exemption, based on a list of base types for the tungsten and discharge lamps we use, together with a recognition of the requirement for colour-tuneable LED sources. This has been submitted to the EU to be incorporated into the next draft of the regulations, which should become available for comment during the early weeks of July.

Our industry team are hopeful that the result will be that the light sources we use, including tungsten, arc and most LED fixtures, will continue to be permitted, which is good news. However, they do also note that some lamp types which are widely used for non-entertainment purposes (such as the M16 ‘birdie’ lamp) may not be recognised as specialist entertainment lighting lamps – though in any case it is becoming increasingly hard to source tungsten M16 lamps. We expect that over time that, regardless of regulation, it will also become harder to obtain tungsten lamps, particularly older or very specialist tungsten lamps, as lamp manufacturers move their resources away from the production of tungsten lamps.

The optimistic hope is that the situation for our world will not be as disastrous as was being predicted earlier this year. But we also all need to recognise that if the limiting factor on these lamps isn’t regulation, it will become supply from the manufacturers; without regulation supply will continue for longer, but we all need to start using that time to start considering how best to upgrade our lighting rigs to newer technology. As ever, we’re here to help with that in any way we can.

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