crew working together

The Journey to ALPD by David Ayton

The conversation around changing the name of the ALD was bubbling around when I first joined the exec in 2020. I’m told it’s been coming up since 2008 - but as I was getting involved, it got bumped down the agenda as coronavirus hit and we had pressing issues to discuss about how we could support you, our members, through the pandemic. From the ALD coronavirus financial guide, the step up in meetings, free online training sessions, Lumière 20:20, member surgeries, social evenings and pub quizzes, and the one on one support and advice we’ve given to members around contracts and cancellation clauses - this all took priority as we were forced to pause our normal lives last year.

However lockdown gave us all an opportunity to reflect, and as the immediacy of the pandemic situation subsided, the topic of the name and function of the ALD gained traction. I remember being at one of the early AAPTLE meetings, and having to explain to others within our industry that the ALD did not just exist for lighting designers, but that in fact production electricians, programmers and technicians were all members we were standing up for alongside LD's. The simple fact that it wasn’t even known by leading figures within our own industry that the association is for everyone working in lighting really hit home with me that we needed a bold gesture to make it more evident who we represent.

So as an exec, we grasped the nettle of the name change conversation, and set in motion a process for discussion using an independent facilitator to ensure the fullest discussion and even-handed exchange of views with a survey of exec members carried out beforehand to guide us.

Initially, we had to agree on the need to change the name in the first place, and make the strategic case for doing so. Getting rid of the perception that we are exclusively for lighting designers, to both those within the lighting community itself as well as the wider industry makes that case easy to agree upon - even for those initially resistant to the idea of a name change. Please trust me when I say that this decision is a considered one that has not been taken lightly -  But the real opportunity is to continue to forge an association which can unambiguously and inclusively campaign on issues for everyone in the lighting community.  There is a pressing need for this - reports of poor conditions, poor fees and poor treatment of lighting practitioners are everyday occurrences making it ever more pressing to try and improve.

What followed was an agreement to find a new name that is more inclusive of the larger lighting community that we represent, whilst being able to acknowledge our valuable brand identity and history as an organisation. This turned out to be harder to coalesce around than making the case for the name change in the first place - there were strong feelings that the word Design or Designer needed to remain so as not to alienate those who consider themselves to have a designer role. For several reasons the word ‘Professional’ doesn’t work for us - chiefly that we have an active membership from those with an interest in lighting who work on the amateur side and don’t work professionally within the industry. It was agreed that the word Production was the best one to describe all of the other roles on the lighting team, and believe me - we agonised over where to put the P! APLD and ALDP both have their merits - however the message that comes from the Association for Lighting Production and Design - putting Production at the heart of what we do, and not just shoving it on the end, is exactly the message at the core of this process.

What I have managed to sum up in the previous two paragraphs, was a sometimes fraught process over many months, with strong opinions coming from every square on the zoom screen and from the members we consulted along the way. However what gives me confidence moving forwards is that the exec unanimously agreed upon the case to change the name, and the decision we arrived at. Since announcing the name change recommendation, we’ve held outreach sessions for discussions and listened to member feedback. In each case I hope that we’ve been able to make the positive case for this name change and reassure members that we have been through a considered process to arrive at ALPD. With the rules of our limited company, the vote at the AGM on Saturday is a vote for changing the name to ALPD, or remaining as the ALD. 

I’ve seen for myself the campaigning and the voice the ALD holds within industry forums that have come to the fore over the events of the past year, and I can confidently say that the ALD punches well above its weight amongst other professional associations. We all face big issues as we get back to work, and from the successes we’ve had with the Save Stage Lighting campaign through the issues of Covid, Brexit and who knows what in the future - we are stronger when we stick together as one lighting community.  Please vote for P on Saturday so we can become the ALPD - we will have a more united and influential voice to protect, develop and change our industry for the better.