The Playgoer: License to Light

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

License to Light

We know some strange things go on legally in the Lone Star state... but did the state of Texas just accidentally outlaw theatrical lighting designers?

So argues Jim on Light, a Denver-based designer and blogger who's up in arms, warning: "If Texas House Bill 2649 becomes law, the implications for Lighting Designers could spread beyond the Texas borders"

What could a state legislature bill do to make that happen? Here's the IALD's official statement of protest. ("That's International Association of Lighting Designers," of course.)

The Texas State Legislature has passed legislation that will have the unintended consequence of outlawing an entire profession—lighting design.


On May 27, 2009, the Texas State Legislature passed legislation drafted without any input from lighting designers, restricting the practice of lighting design to members of other professions and trades, such as architects, engineers and electricians. There are no provisions in the legislation for establishing a licensing standard for lighting designers.
All of which, again, raises the question: how the hell does this happen?

In short the bill limits the practice of lighting in the state only to specific licensed professions--and theatre designers aren't one of them. Hence, Jim on Light's fear that, "this bill is going to make it impossible for lighting designers who work in Texas to work on projects without being licensed as either an electrician, architect, engineer, landscape architect, or interior designer."

I can only assume this resulted from politicians cozying up to certain unions (such as the mighty architects and interior decorators!) at the expense of others, like United Scenic Artists, who, I suppose, might now want a stronger chapter in Texas! Or is there a "Big Lighting" behind this? i.e. the makers of the actual equipment trying to control its distribution?

Seriously, can anyone explain what the hell is going on down there?

(Hat tip to BackstageJobs, who has more details here and here. And for more hardcore, here's the facts of the bill itself on Texas Legislature Online.)