Lights are being dimmed all over Europe


Sir, – I am an Irish lighting designer for theatre currently living and working in London. In recent months I have found myself as one of three leading drivers behind a campaign to safeguard the future of the European live entertainment industry.

There is a very real threat facing theatres, festivals and music venues in Ireland and across Europe. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy has proposed legislation which seeks to bring specialist stage and entertainment lighting under the same efficiency regulations as the light bulbs that one might use in your garage or kitchen. This means that from September 2020 severe restrictions will begin to be placed on the sale of our current tools, culminating in their removal from the European market.

We need many of our tools to be able to move and focus, to dim, to change shape, colour and size, and of course we require them to be able to be considerably bright too. Even our newest and best LED lanterns are not compliant with these proposals. For us in the lighting industry, this is an impossible ask.

As a result the lighting infrastructures in the majority of venues across the country, big and small, amateur and professional, as well as colleges, schools, clubs, pubs and community halls, would immediately become obsolete. Replacements would almost certainly not be affordable to smaller venues. Furthermore, due to the complications in physics and optical design, it might not actually be possible to make compliant alternative units at all.

This means that in the not too distant future, the European entertainment industry faces the very real threat of going dark: No more Jimmy’s Hall, Riverdance, Les Misérables or Phantom of the Opera; no more Longitude, Electric Picnic or Sea Sessions. It really could be lights out for all theatre and concerts.

I really cannot stress enough; the entire live entertainment industry could be crushed overnight by this.

The Association of Lighting Designers, which is mainly a UK-based organisation but which has a large international membership, is spearheading the campaign to stop this from happening. We aim to secure an exemption for stage lighting units from these otherwise laudable and ambitious proposals, so that Ireland and Europe can continue to produce some of the greatest work ever to be seen on stage. – Yours, etc,


Lighting designer,


Rosses Point,

Co Sligo.