Could theatres’ lights be switched off?

Grace Pye

Could theatres’ lights be switched off?

Imagine you’re at your favourite West End show. You wait patiently for the room to dim into complete darkness before the opening scene begins. Suddenly, hundreds of lights illuminate from every direction, bringing the stage to life as the performance starts. A familiar experience for theatre lovers, but this could soon be a thing of the past due to a new EU proposal to ban the vast majority of stage lighting by 2020.

As part of the EU’s continuing commitment to energy efficiency, the Commission have proposed banning the sale of most commonly-used stadium lighting equipment, in an effort to bring big venues more into line with laws created to curb home and office energy consumption.

This would create a huge financial crisis for every theatre, concert hall and stadium in the country. In the UK alone, changing all of the lighting equipment currently in-place would cost more than £180 million. A campaign has already been launched by the UK Association of Lighting Designers.

Despite the UK’s intent to leave the EU before the policy is enacted, the sudden shortage of the energy-inefficient lighting stock available on the continent post-2020 will effectively force Britain’s larger stadia to comply with the directive.

The Chair of the Association of Lighting Designers said that this new proposal is “deeply alarming” and would simply “crush existing shows”.

She also said “The reduction of energy consumption is of course a goal we all share, but the proposal shows no understanding of the tools we use in lighting design.

“Should this proposal go ahead as written, and unchecked, the effect on show lighting in Europe, as well as the UK, will be truly devastating.”

As with all post-Brexit challenges, Britain must decide whether to go it alone and face a series of market difficulties, or continue to comply with an unpopular Brussels directive without any say in its creation or application.

Concerns like this exist in every sector as the Government plots Britain’s Brexit strategy in the years ahead; keeping the lights on in Theatreland is just one of them…

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