THEATRES in Oldham are hitting back at EU proposals which could force some playhouses to close.

The Coliseum and Lyceum theatres and the Millgate Arts Centre have joined a national campaign to stop changes in the law that would see theatres forced to replace expensive lighting fixtures.

Plans put forward by the EU would mean theatres across the UK and Europe are subject to laws requiring them to move to more efficient LED lighting, despite a lack of appropriate fixtures available.

The #SaveStageLighting campaign, run by the Association of Lighting Designers, is aimed at continuing the current exemption afforded to stage lighting equipment, which means theatres are generally free from keeping up with EU standards.

Lorna Munden, the Coliseum’s chief electrician, said that over 300 lights used by the theatre would become illegal under the plans and would be extremely expensive to replace.

In addition, she explained that the modern LED equipment available to swap with the current lighting systems is very costly and is still not efficient enough to be within the EU’s guidelines.

She added: “This means the quality of lighting across the country would drop entirely. Even the big West End theatres or those with huge subsidies would not be able to light their shows well, since the high-quality LED replacements that have been developed over the last few years would be obsolete.

“This really will have a huge negative effect on us - things like just being able to fade lights down to blackout smoothly could become a thing of the past.”

In addition to the cost and availability issues, theatres have complained that the quality of lighting would fall if new regulations are enforced.

The Association of Lighting Designers has said that there are “very few theatrical-quality LED lighting fixtures that come close to matching the beauty, subtlety, richness and poetry of tungsten light sources”.

The group argues that, while the current lighting equipment may be less efficient, it only runs for a relatively short duration and rigs usually contained multiple lights which are rarely on at the same time.

They currently have a petition going which has reached more than 11,000 signatures on, with a target of 15,000.

Phil McCarthy, chairman of the Lyceum Theatre, said that the cost to his establishment could be as high as £20,000-£40,000 and make the current lighting rigs worthless.

He added: “Many amateur groups hire theatres for one to two weeks and this regulation will just push up rental costs again.

“It is difficult enough to stay ahead of the game and this may well close some amateur theatres or venues.”

David Plowright, of the Millgate Arts Centre, echoed Mr McCarthy’s points, adding that the lights in question are only turned on for a total of about three weeks every year.

He said: “It’s just not on for any of the small theatres like ours and those around all other communities. The cost would be very high.”

He went on to explain that the Arts Centre would cope well with changes to its other lighting sources but would struggle to deal with the situation if stage lighting rigs were included.

If plans continue then the EU regulations will come into force by 2020, however it is not clear what effect Britain’s future exit from the union might have on proposals.

For more information, or to support the campaign, visit: