New EU regulations could bankrupt theatres and shut down Harry Potter experience

EU Legislation theatre lighting 2020
New proposed EU regulations on lighting coming into effect in 2020 could force theatres and major attractions across the UK to close.

The new EU lighting regulations which are currently being considered would force theatres out of business as lighting based on current tungsten and LED technology would be banned. With so many theatres across the UK still reliant on incandescent lighting setups, simply replacing all lighting rigs would not be financially possible for most companies.

From small community theatres to catwalks, stadiums and even The Harry Potter experience at Leavesden, lighting suppliers would be forced to stop selling equipment or even providing supplies to service existing setups as new industry regulations come in. While there are alternatives including fluorescent lighting, many theatres and venues have already invested heavily into existing setups, and the cost of simply replacing equipment that is working well is unviable.

There is also the question of creative application with older lighting kits. Four-time Olivier award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable revealed to Sky News how the industry could not create the same shows with lighting that isn’t designed for the stage:

“You’d realise the difference… it’s a future on stage where we stop being able to focus, shift colour or create shapes in the air. There would be a lack of movement, a lack of storytelling. Losing all those tools means the art of lighting as we see it in concerts, potentially in film and TV, certainly in any live situation or production – all of that would become impossible.”

The estimated cost to the UK would be over £1 billion for theatres alone and result in thousands of jobs being lost with knock-on effects throughout the entertainment business. The disruption in the supplier chain for lighting would also create industry-wide problems not just in the UK but abroad where lighting is used for many international events.

While the goals of the EU’s new legislation is aimed at reducing energy consumption primarily at the domestic level, Brussels is keen to enforce the standards on businesses in other sectors as well from 2020 – however there are no existing technologies that can replicate what is available now and used by a majority of the industry.

Despite the UK’s departure from the EU in 2019, the Government has agreed to implement new EU legislation during a 2-year transitional period, which would mean the 2020 laws would be enforced in the UK.

While no decision has yet been made about the implementation of strict lighting standards for the entertainment industry, it would seem that the EU Commission may have underestimated the impact of such a move, and the wider repercussions it will have not just in Britain, but across the bloc.

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