Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a Dance Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington where she serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble. She is also a member of Muscle Memory Dance Theatre – a modern dance collective. Danielle is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, and her first book, The Politics of State Public Arts Funding, is out now.
Today, the Texas Senate will be voting on Texas House Bill 2649, a bill that could put thousands of lighting designers in Texas out of business.
The section many lighting designers, technical directors, and lighting professors are concerned about is Sec. 1001.3011: Lighting Design; License or Registration Required, which states that:
(a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is:
(1) licensed as an engineer under this chapter;
(2) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under Subtitle B, Title 6; or
(3) licensed under Chapter 1305.
(b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware.
The gist of the bill is that unless you’re a state licensed electrician, architect, landscape architect, interior designer or engineer, you’ll no longer be able to practice lighting design in the state of Texas. The economic impact of the proposed legislation will be extensive: dozens of lighting designers practice in Texas, and hundreds of projects in the state depend on professional lighting designers for their full architectural expression.
Though the bill’s affect is currently restricted to Texas lighting designers, its implications could resonate nationally. Members of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) abide by a strict code of ethics and bring both technical knowledge and artistic sensibilities to bringing out the best in buildings and outdoor spaces. IALD professional lighting designers dedicate their careers exclusively to the art and science of lighting. There is no substitute for their level of expertise and professionalism. But a national bill of this magnitude could mean that many trained experts are out of a job. And no one wants that during these economic times.
Furthermore, the underlying context of this bill could be construed as meaning that lighting design is not a valid craft. The current verbiage talks about lighting for structures, which includes what many lighting designers have formed their careers around. One main question raised from this legislation is: why has lighting design not even been taken into consideration in a bill that dictates the qualifications of a lighting designer? Part of the problems stems from the fact that the legislation was drafted without any input from lighting designers themselves. Secondly, there are no provisions for establishing a licensing standard for lighting designers within the document.
Could we be seeing the end of a profession that has brought spaces to life and illuminated the stage and screen for more than 120 years?