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#SaveStageLighting: EU parliament votes for exemption

An amendment tabled by the UK's Ashley Fox has won the approval of his fellow MEPs, showing the European Commission can "no longer ignore" concerns over new lighting regs

By Jon Chapple on 07 Jun 2018

Ashley Fox, Ecodesign Directive debate, European Parliament

Ashley Fox reads his proposed amendment

image © European Parliament

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have handed an early victory to campaigners against the EU’s proposed new Ecodesign directive – which critics argue would cause venues across Europe to go dark – by voting to maintain the current exemption for the entertainment sector.

Venues and industry associations last month warned some of the continent’s best-loved music venues and theatres face a blackout post-2020, under plans to regulate stage lighting under the same environmental rules that govern those sold for domestic and office use.

The UK’s National Theatre said the proposed regulations – which require a minimum efficiency of 85 lumens per watt and a maximum standby power of 0.5W – may mean it “can’t light our shows anymore”, while Beyoncé’s lighting designer, Tim Routledge, said the rules would hurt “every music venue, arena, music festival and touring concert production across Europe”. “Pretty much every single tool that we use as lighting designers will be rendered obsolete by these rules,” he said.

Pending any unexpected (and unrealistic) advances in lighting technology by 2020, the effect of the Ecodesign Working Plan, if implemented in its current form, would be to cause “thousands of venues, theatres and music festivals across the continent [to go] dark”, added the Save Stage Lighting campaign, whose official hashtag – #SaveStageLighting – was beamed onto theatres and venues across the continent in protest at the proposed rules.

“This is vital for small theatres across Europe”

Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels on 31 May, British MEP Ashley Fox said an exemption is “vital for small theatres across Europe”, and submitted an oral amendment to the directive to that effect.

“I propose that we add a new [amendment] as follows: ‘Whereas the existing exemption for stage lighting from the Commission regulations 244/2009 and 1194/2012 has been an appropriate and effective way to respect the special needs and circumstances for theatres and the whole entertainment industry and should be continued,’” he told the house.

The vote (a video of which can be viewed here) passed, with 330 MEPs voting in favour, 246 against and 44 abstentions.

While the industry will no doubt welcome having a majority of EU parliamentarians in favour of exempting venues from the new rules, Belgian association STEPP – one of several industry bodies to contact MEPs over the issue – warns against celebrating prematurely, as the vote is “not yet legislation, and thus does not mean that the danger has passed for our sector”.

However, what Fox’s intervention does demonstrate is that “the European Commission can no longer ignore this important signal” from lawmakers, it adds.


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