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EU referendum: Equity and MU back remain campaign

The EU Referendum will take place on June 23. Photo: Alexandru Nika/shutterstock

Entertainment unions Equity and the Musician’s Union have pledged their support for remaining in the European Union, claiming voting to leave would have ”very unwelcome” consequences for British artists and performers.

Backstage union BECTU’s national executive committee also supports remaining in the EU, though the union said that its full policy on the matter would be determined at next month’s annual conference.

Equity’s council voted to support the UK staying within the EU at its last meeting, claiming that it was in the “professional interests” of the union and its members to remain part of Europe, warning that exiting could lead to more restrictive rules on visas and immigration. Equity said this could have knock-on effects for working abroad.

The union’s official document on the implications of the referendum outcome also highlights the benefits of continued EU membership to arts and culture.

These include access to the Creative Europe funding scheme, which is worth £1.07 billion. In 2015 the culture sub-programme supported 54 British projects, while the media strand funded 53 screen co-productions.

Equity warned that leaving the EU could lead to losing access to funding streams such as this.

The MU stated that the benefits of staying in the EU for musicians were numerous.

Touring is easier and less expensive owing to open borders, the union claimed, adding that EU health and safety legislation has meant that the job of being a musician has become safer. It added that worker’s rights legislation has improved the working life of artists in the UK.

“The effect that Brexit would have on musicians in Britain is not entirely clear and would depend on the terms negotiated. We could expect touring to become more difficult and potentially see British musicians having to apply for visas in order to travel within Europe,” it said.

“Given the cost and difficulty many musicians face in obtaining visas for work in countries such as the US, this would be very unwelcome,” the MU added.

Despite this, Equity’s policy highlighted that in some cases the EU was a “burden” to the cultural sector and called for areas of reform.

“Council will continue to express concern about the actions of the European Commission with regard to the negotiation of international trade agreements [such as TTIP [1]] and the undermining of collective bargaining and social protection in Eurozone countries following the financial crisis,” Equity said.

The EU Referendum will take place on June 23.