At their Christmas Lighting Lunch in London on Friday, December 16, the UK Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) announced that their former chairman, Rick Fisher, has joined such outstanding designers as David Hersey, Robert Bryan, Andrew Bridge, and Francis Reid in becoming a Fellow of the ALD. It is the highest award the Association can award to its members and is presented in recognition of outstanding contribution to the art and business of lighting design. Fisher was taken by surprise, and according to Mark White of ETC, "Fisher was almost at a loss for words, he knew absolutely nothing about it." The award was presented by Francis Reid.
Another Fellow, ALD president Richard Pilbrow sent a message from the US, which was read by the emcee for the event, Mark Jonathan:
“Great moments in the theatre stick in my head. As Billy Elliott soared magically into the air, my soul soared with him. Light, story, music, performer, magic: all fused into an ecstatic moment.
We are very fortunate to be lighting designers. We explore the cutting edge of art where it bonds with technology, in aid of telling stories on the stage. We manipulate light itself to evoke the imagination; illumination to reveal our way in the world of theatre and beyond. Rick Fisher is one of the greats of our profession.
Light matters. Rick's leadership of the ALD has made it matter so much more. Take it from me, starting an organization is quite easy. Taking a mature one, and kicking it into a whole new life is hard. The ALD has always had enthusiastic members, but Rick, as our chairman, has given it a whole new life . . . And an entirely new importance.
As an organization he has led us into greater responsibility. The foundation of Light Relief was pivotal in saying: "We are a profession and we must take seriously our members' really long term needs." Progress in improving our immediate needs . . . like more money (!), has been slow, but steady. The battle for true recognition for our profession goes on. But nobody has done more to open up the world to lighting's real role. Rick's initiative in seeking a meeting of minds with theatre critics was surely brilliant. Under his leadership, FOCUS has simply become the best magazine in the world about our art of light. We are marking his retirement as our chairman. He has our thanks.
In 50 years, his extraordinary contribution will be remembered. Lighting designers will still wonder about how such perfection could be achieved . . . A boy soaring into the air . . . A spirit soaring above our sometime mundane world. That is what theatre can do. That is what light can do."
Fisher, who designed the musical Billy Elliot, won a Tony Award for his outstanding lighting of An Inspector Calls. He is succeeded as ALD chair by Peter Mumford.