Let There Be LED Light!

While the lighting on stage during a performance may seem like a simple element that might go unnoticed, it is actually one of the most essential parts of a production and it can greatly impact an audience’s experience. Lighting can simulate the different times of the day, influence the audience’s mood and call focus on a particular actor or area of the stage. If you notice anything different about the lights on stage at The Lincoln Center, your eyes are not deceiving you. We’re thrilled to report that we are replacing our old lights with energy-saving, color-changing LEDs. 

The old lighting system was limiting and didn’t offer a range of colors. On top of its limitations, it was also difficult to transition from color to color. “We put gels in front of our lights, which are little colored pieces of plastic that filter out all the colors we don’t want and leave us with the color we do want,” explains Theater Operations Manager Matthew Schlief, who was excited to discuss our new lighting upgrade. “With LED lights we don’t need to put gels in anymore because if I want red light, I only have to turn on the red LED.” Lighting transitions will be a lot faster and with just a simple keystroke. “We can do fades from a lime green to a blue with just the push of a button.”

The new LED lights allow a wider range of colors from red to lime green to magenta. “We now have the entire rainbow to choose from. We can instantly change the color and the look,” says Schlief. The LED lights will also allow for interesting effects to be displayed like never before. “We can create effects like color roll, where the colors roll across the stage and the colors create a swirling effect. We can create a full rainbow from all around the color spectrum for fun, wacky effects on stage.” 

While The Lincoln Center is thrilled to be keeping up with theatrical technology, we are also committed to supporting our environment through sustainable practices. The new LED lighting will not only improve the audience’s experience at The Lincoln Center but also cut down on the energy we use. “Our old lights were 575 watts and the new LED lights are 125 watts, essentially we are saving 80% in energy costs and usage,” says Schlief. That means with 152 lights for our biggest shows, we are saving energy to the tune of 68,400 watts while keeping the lumens (brightness) the same!

You can expect to see this change on stage by the start of our 2023–24 performing arts season. We hope that you are excited as we are, and if we can shift to low-wattage LEDs and still pull off amazing theatrical productions, perhaps we’ll inspire folks to make the shift to LEDs in their homes as well.