Lighting designers - Patrick Vitali and Patrizia De Masi

Live performing arts in times of the pandemic

The measures taken to fight Covid-19 have bent the already fragile and jagged Italian system of live performing arts: how to react? What present and future?
We talked about all this with Patrick Vitali, free lance lighting designer specialized in the field of theatrical lighting technology and live concert and with Patrizia De Masi, urban architect specialized in lighting design and president of AILD (Italian Association of Lighting Designers). 

 From the Italian Chamber of Deputies Website:
Following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, since March 2020, the public opening services of cultural institutions and places, as well as performances of all kinds, including theatrical and cinematographic performances, have been suspended throughout Italy.
Subsequently, it was permitted, under certain conditions, from May 2020, to open up museums and other cultural institutions and places to the public and, since June 2020, to hold performances open to the public in theatre, concert halls, cinemas and other spaces.
In October 2020, in view of the particularly widespread nature of the epidemic and the increase in cases in Italy, restrictions were again introduced.
To address this situation, a number of actions have been taken to support operators in the sector (”
Nevertheless, the show business workers are experiencing a very serious crisis.

 Patrick, how do lighting designers face the covid emergency?
In the current situation it is difficult to be an operator in the entertainment sector. I am referring not only to lighting technicians and lighting designers but to all the categories that work to offer always exciting and quality shows the public.
With my theater company, after the forced halt in February, I went on tour in October 2020 to make up for the missed dates, but after only a week of performances the whole sector was blocked again due to covid.
Saying that it was frustrating would be an understatement, if only we consider all that stands behind the realization of a show: ideas, projects, texts, rehearsals and arrangements.
However, we must nevertheless try to move forward by “reinventing ourselves” and by expanding our areas of expertise. As far as I'm concerned, I was able to work by moving into the field of set lighting for streaming shooting and I am going on as a project consultant for shows and events which, however, will probably remain in standby for a long time.
In these periods of forced lockdowns time can be invested in updating. Thanks to the network, we lighting designers can take advantage of interesting courses on new lighting consoles (Avolites Titan,  Hog4, Etc Ion) or design softwares (Capture, Augmented 3d) and  learn about new products presentations.
Of course, the economic problem for the entire sector and for related industries is enormous. While waiting for economic refreshments, the lack of work has caused serious economic losses compared to the previous years. The current political situation, as if that was not enough, has also blocked the provision of refreshments, putting entertainment workers in knees.
The theaters have now been closed for more than a hundred days and, if we consider the beginning of the pandemic, the entire events sector (theaters, concerts, fairs, congresses, weddings) has stalled for a whole year.
The hope and the strong demand of the workers in the entertainment world is that we can soon return to work safely because both us and our audience miss the stage.

Patrizia, the entertainment sector, in which most of the lighting professionals work, recorded a loss of income and turnover of 72.9% (Il Sole 24 Ore). How does AILD suggest to protect and support lighting designers and technicians in this situation?

To understand how we are moving, it is necessary to make a brief introduction about who we are.
AILD (Italian Lighting Design Association) was founded in 2006 with the aim of overcoming individualism and the lack of a real culture of lighting design, and therefore to promote and protect this profession in the multiplicity of its fields of application.
One of the most important objectives achieved during the pandemic crisis is the opening of the UNI-GL15 work table, with the aim of define and officialise the figure of the lighting designer. This is an epochal step in the Italian lighting scenario but also in Europe, being ours the first case among thestate members. The pre-normative phase of this process, which officially began in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, has just ended and with the best of wishes, the publication of the standard will shortly be reached.
In AILD we believe that this action, which was and still is crucial for the future change of the professional sector,  is currently contributing going along with the efforts of those who are working to keep a professional community - suddenly arrested in March last year with abrupt work stoppage - afloat.
It is common opinion that the current stalemate has only emphasized the previously existing critical issues in the culture and entertainment sectors, so as an Association we have chosen to keep on working with even stronger  motivation on the initiatives already planned, in order to build a more efficient professional scenario for the post-pandemic recovery.
We are also developing a strategy of actions “on the field” aimed at drawing greater attention on the topic, including training programs dedicated  in particular to the professional orders of architects and engineers, with a completely innovative theoretical and approach contents compared to the common offer, counting on the experiential richness,shared by our Associates who cover almost all the lighting design specializations.
To conclude, we want to launch a message of encouragement to the whole corus of professionals of the performing arts, inviting them to anchor themselves to what makes our work, in its many facets, an authentic privilege: passion, tenacity, desire for beauty and sharing capabilities.
Just add an extra pinch more of awareness about your own professional value, and a safe landing beyond the pandemic fence will be guaranteed.

r capire come ci stiamo muovendo è necessario fare una breve premessa su chi siamo.
AILD (Associazione Italiana Lighting Design) nasce nel 2006 con l’obiettivo di superare l’individualismo e la mancanza di una vera e propria cultura del lighting design e di promuovere e tutelare la professione nella molteplicità dei suoi ambiti di applicazione.
Uno tra i più importanti obiettivi raggiunti proprio durante la crisi pandemica è l’apertura del tavolo di lavoro UNI-GL15, con la finalità di regolamentare la figura del lighting designer. Si tratta di un passo epocale nello scenario del lighting italiano ma anche europeo essendo il primo caso tra gli stati primi. Di questo percorso, iniziato ufficialmente proprio nel 2020 all’esordio della pandemia, si è appena conclusa la fase prenormativa e con i migliori auspici si arriverà a breve alla pubblicazione della norma.
In AILD crediamo che questo sia un contributo cruciale per il cambiamento futuro del settore professionale, contributo che in questo momento va ad affiancarsi agli sforzi di chi si sta adoperando per far rimanere a galla una comunità professionale arrestata di colpo nel marzo dello scorso anno con una brusca frenata lavorativa.
È opinione comune che lo stallo attuale abbia solo enfatizzato marcate criticità pregresse del settore cultura e spettacolo, per cui come Associazione abbiamo scelto di continuare a lavorare con maggior motivazione sulle iniziative già programmate proprio per costruire uno scenario professionale più funzionale per la ripresa post pandemia.
Stiamo inoltre mettendo a punto una strategia di azioni sul campo volta a richiamare maggiore attenzione sul tema, tra cui la formazione rivolta in particolare agli ordini professionali di architetti ed ingegneri, con contenuti teorici e di approccio completamente innovativi rispetto alla comune offerta, contando sulla ricchezza esperienziale condivisa dai soci che coprono quasi tutte le specializzazioni del lighting design. A breve daremo ufficialmente notizia delle nostre proposte tramite il sito AILD (
Per concludere, vogliamo lanciare un messaggio di incoraggiamento a tutto il corus di professionalità delle arti sceniche, invitando ad ancorarsi a ciò che rende il nostro lavoro, nelle sue mille sfaccettature, un autentico privilegio: passione, tenacia, voglia di bellezza e di condivisione. Da aggiungere un pizzico in più di consapevolezza del proprio valore, e un atterraggio sicuro oltre la pandemia sarà garantito.

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