Theatres could go dark under EU eco-lighting proposals

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European Commission directive aimed at creating a more environmentally sustainable economy would shut down most performing arts ventures, warns Association of Lighting Designers.

Theatres and concert venues face extinction if 'mad' rules proposed by the body that runs the EU become law, eminent figures from the British entertainment industry have warned.

The European Commission’s Eco-design Working Plan and its associated proposed regulations would impose a minimum efficiency of 85 lumens per watt and a maximum standby power of 0.5W on all light sources, according to the Save Stage Lighting campaign.

This could have a dire impact on the performing arts since no tungsten fixtures and many LED-based entertainment fixtures apparently do not meet these requirements.

The Association of Lighting Designers, which has analysed the EU documents in depth, is warning that exemptions previously created for the stage lighting industry have been removed by the Commission.

The group’s petition, which has so far been signed by more than 12,000 people, warns: “The entertainment industry will have almost no tools whatsoever with which to light plays, musicals or concerts.”

Speaking to the BBC yesteday, Patrick Woodroffe, who has lit Abba and Lady Gaga concerts and worked on the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, said the proposal seems like “madness”.

He added that: “the provisions that are allowed for us for LED in the new EU legislation mean that even those LED lights that we’ve used to save a huge amount of energy wouldn’t be allowed to be used – or if we have to build to light to [the EUs] strictures, the light would [need to] be as big as a refrigerator [...] I cannot believe that anybody would actually want this to happen.”

Paule Constable, a lighting designer who has worked on dozens of hit London plays, told the BBC: “If I think about a show like Follies, for example, at the National Theatre, or War Horse, there is no equipment that could create any of the images that you see in those productions that would be allowed under the new legislation.

“We have been developing new technologies and working with different technologies, using less energy all the time, and the shows we make are a mixture of elements that we work with – but all of those would be banned.”

On Twitter, meanwhile, illusionist Derren Brown branded the move “bizarre”.

The proposed measures, which would come into force in 2020 and would apply to all EU member states, are currently the subject of a consultation. The European Commission says its aim is to meet climate goals agreed in the Paris Agreement, and to contribute to a more sustainable economy. The Commission stressed that respondents’ views will be taken into account before a final decision is reached and said that any changes would need to be passed into national law by the relevant parliaments of EU member states.

Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty, one of the core documents of the EU, states that the EU ‘shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.’

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