The ALD Lumiere Scheme


Origins of the Scheme

The Lumière scheme started with a question about whether those of us who were able to get on and up the career ladder were creating enough opportunities to provide emerging designers with the benefits of learning first-hand from established practitioners. Our response was a professional development programme that provides pathways into the industry for some of the brightest, most promising emerging designers.

“How do I get work and where do I start?” is a question experienced lighting designers inevitably get asked by lighting design students. Our instinctive advice has always been: “find your own generation”. Team up with young directors and designers just starting out, work for producers putting up plays on the fringe or in small venues around the country. Working with small budgets in challenging spaces is invaluable experience, and connecting with your own generation is an investment for the future.

In the UK the role of assistant lighting designer is very underused, except on larger commercial shows. In the US this is not the case: assistant and associate lighting designers are appointed even to the smallest productions as a matter of course, and this has a positive impact on the quality of work produced.

As well as developing each Lumière as an artist, our scheme functions to introduce the role of assistant lighting designer to productions that would otherwise not have one, and thus support excellence in lighting design throughout the industry in the UK. We need to train our emerging lighting designers to be able to assist usefully, creatively and efficiently, and we also need to encourage producing managements – both commercial and subsidised, large and small – to recognise this role as a regular and vital part of the team.

The scheme allows freelance designers and full-time venue staff to share their knowledge. Informal vocational training within backstage departments (the passing on of vital knowledge from experienced staff to newer practitioners) is a well-respected backbone of the industry. This scheme gives formal support to that tradition and allows it to happen more effectively.


How does the Lumière scheme work?

Following a competitive application process, emerging designers (with at least a year’s experience) are selected to become “Lumières” for a twelve-month period. The scheme consists of two parts. Initially, they will be placed within a top UK producing theatre, assisting visiting lighting designers within the production/lighting department. In the second stage, the Lumière will be matched with a number of established lighting designers and will spend six months assisting them, travelling around the country and possibly internationally. Alongside this, each Lumière will receive a bespoke package of mentoring and support, a toolkit for how to survive and thrive as a lighting designer: anything from getting an agent and building a portfolio to navigating challenging situations.

We know there is a real need for the scheme and we’re grateful for how many ALD members generously go out of their way to share their knowledge and expertise with designers who are starting out. As things stand, so much of this work experience, assisting and shadowing occurs on an ad hoc basis. We have to be realistic about the increasing barriers to people attempting to enter the arts and there is a very real possibility that, without intervention, some of the most talented people will start falling between the gaps. 


Developing the Scheme

In conjunction with Chichester Festival Theatre, the ALD has run two successful shorter versions of the scheme in 2015 and 2016. As a result we have been able to develop and assess the criteria and method of the scheme prior to approaching trusts and funding bodies to support the further roll-out of places.

This six-month placement involved twelve weeks based at Chichester Festival Theatre where the successful applicants worked as part of the lighting department with special responsibility for acting as a conduit between the visiting lighting designers and the department for shows in both the main house and Minerva Theatre. This was then followed by three months working with a range of established lighting designers as their assistant on a wide range of productions.

Our two recipients wrote about their experiences in the ALD members's magazine Focus.  You can see what they thought by reading Charlotte Burton's and Rachel Cleary's articles by selecting the links of either name.


Why we need your help

Although the ALD has successfully run and funded two pilot schemes, we still need your help. We are asking people to consider donating a sum, whether that be £5 or £500 (or anything above or in between!), to help us on our way. We’re exploring all angles for raising money, including charitable trusts and corporate sponsorship.

If you feel able to donate there are one of three ways:

Thank you for your support. If everyone who reads this could give even £5, we would be a big step further towards achieving our goal. We need to raise £100,000 to fully fund this project to support three Lumières per year.

So please help to light up the Lumière scheme!


The Lumière Scheme in Detail

In the first six months:

• The Lumière will be based in a participating theatre, assisting the lighting designers coming into that venue. Furthermore, they will be credited as a member of the theatre organisation during their stay.

• They will attend all meetings of the relevant shows and attend all events the lighting designer attends and act as their assistant.

• The Lumière will assist with decision-making relevant to the production in the absence of the lighting designer.

• They will attend meetings for other productions and other building meetings to gain a relevant experience of working within a theatre organisation.

• They will be under the supervision of the theatres’ technical management team, in order for them to gain a greater understanding of the work in a producing house. This placement should widen their knowledge of all departments and how they interact together.


In the second six months:

• The Lumière will learn how to assist a lighting designer, establishing what skills are required and strengthening these skills. They will receive tutoring from the lighting designer alongside the guidelines set out by the ALD.

• They will spend all their time working alongside the lighting designer in each theatre they attend.

• They will also complete specified training programme paperwork during this six-month period.

• The Lumière will assist with decision-making relevant to the production in the absence of the lighting designer.



• They will be capable of assisting any working lighting designer in the industry.

• They will be recognised as an ALD Lumière graduate within the industry and be well on their way to a working career in theatre.


More Information

For more information or to discuss the Lumière scheme in detail, please contact ALD Chair Peter Mumford or Johanna Town, chair of the ALD’s Lumière scheme working group.

Download or view the information leaflet about the scheme.

If you wish to donate to help raise fund to the start up of the scheme please complete this donation form and return it to the ALD Office


Supporting Lighting Designers:

Neil Austin

Lucy Carter

Natasha Chivers

Jon Clark

Matt Clutterham

Paule Constable

Lee Curran

Chris Davey

James Farncombe

Rick Fisher

Michael Hulls

Richard G Jones

Prema Mehta

Katy Morison

Peter Mumford

Bruno Poet

Malcolm Rippeth

Johanna Town

Hugh Vanstone

Katharine Williams


Supporting Theatres:

Chichester Festival Theatre