With all due respect, you don't seem to understand what I'm saying at all. The designer is not "crew"*; he's an artist, just like the choreographer, and there's no reason for the designer to touch the equipment. You don't even have to call him or her a "designer":
"Hi, this is Mr. Jones. He's the Acting Associate Assistant Artistic Advisor, and he'll tell you what we need in the way of lighting."
* Any more than a carpenter is the same as an architect.
If you'll email me and tell me where in the country you are, I may know people who can help you find a more appropriate venue.
You're required to use their technicians. You're not required to use their designers, nor should you, any more than you would allow the theatre to dictate what your costumes, choreography, or any other artistic element of your production should be.
There's a difference between a lighting designer and a technician. Unless your instructions yto them are as explicit as, "Put this light here, color it this color (and I mean a specific color, by swatch book number, not just 'blue' or 'red') and focus it here," you're asking them to perform design functions.
Believe me, if you come in with an experienced designer, your credibility with the crew will go way up.
How often are you required to give them that 30-minute break?
Aha! I wasn't reading carefully. They do the lighting set up and all I do is decide which color or ask of it be brighter down stage. I occasionally ask for some special thing like one spotlight over centre, but we send that in early so that when they set up it's already on the list. They do a billion recitals so they are good at knowing the general lighting that works for most schools.
In an 8 hour day they get 2 15's and a 30 minute. It depends what time we start or if we spend the afternoon techning things and then started rehearsal at 4. I can't remember how many hours go by before we are required to do that. There's always some crabby parent who doesn't understand the full scope of putting on a rehearsal that gets mad that we have to take a break.
So you're doing what a designer (or an "Acting Associate Assistant Artistic Advisor") would do, but (probably -- please don't be offended, but I'm playing the odds) not as thoroughly or with as much knowledge and experience.
One hour's worth of breaks in an 8-hour day isn't much. In a union house, there would be at least 3 10 minute breaks and an hour lunch break.
Oh, totally, I am no lighting expert. I just put the opposite color of their costume behind them and it looks good enough to me. Red costume, blue light behind them and the general lighting remains the same.
I once did this massive lighting thing for our 20 minute production and it took three hours to load and I actually had to go home and practice the lighting cues with my script while playing the music. My SO at the time had to pay a ton of overtime to all the technicians which was REALLY generous for me to get the chance to do it. At the end the technicians asked me to go out for beers with them which I take as a tremendous compliment!