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Brexit: what the draft agreement means for the arts

Theresa May. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Theresa May's deal essentially maintains the status quo until 2020
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The Stage has spoken to BECTU Brexit expert Tony Lennon about Theresa May’s draft deal to leave the European Union and what this means for the arts.

Lennon explained that May’s deal, which was revealed on November 14, essentially maintains the status quo until 2020, with the deal “not saying anything concrete” about what will happen after this.

He said this was effectively “postponing a leap into the dark” for the creative industries until 2020, with “all the important issues left up in the air”.

According to Lennon, the main areas in which Brexit will impact the creative industries after 2020 are:

Movement of people

What is the issue?

  • After 2020, there will be an end to freedom of movement, which allows EU nationals to travel freely to work in other member countries.
  • It is likely EU citizens will now have to apply through the visa system currently used by applicants from the rest of the world to work in the UK.
  • The UK’s Tier 2 visa system allows 20,700 “high-skilled workers” into the UK each year, for any length of time up to three years.
  • To qualify, citizens must have a confirmed job offer or earn more than £30,000 pro rata.

How will this affect the arts?

Movement of goods

What is the issue?

  • There are likely to be added administrative and financial burdens for transporting goods and equipment around the EU.
  • This could include drivers needing international licences, vehicles requiring a permit and goods/equipment needing special paperwork, known as a ‘carnet’.

How will this affect the arts?

  • This will make it more difficult and expensive to transport scenery, props and technical equipment abroad for touring shows.
  • The cost of taking a show abroad could increase by 10-15%.

End of Creative Europe funding

What is the issue?

  • Cultural organisations in UK received nearly £17 million a year from the EU’s Creative Europe funding programme, according to a 2017 British Council report.
  • Much of this is used for small grants of up to £10,000 to kick-start creative projects.

How will this affect the arts?

  • After 2020, arts organisations will no longer have access to this funding.
  • The government have made a “vague commitment” to replicate some EU funding, but there are no specific details on how much or where this will go.

The Creative Industries Federation also commented on the latest Brexit developments.

Alan Bishop, chief executive of the CIF, said that the withdrawal agreement would take the country one step further away from a potentially “devastating” no-deal scenario.

He added: “We urgently need more clarity on the final relationship. Given that the creative industries contribute £92 billion gross value added to the UK’s economy and are the nation’s fastest growing sector, it is vital that this crucial sector remains central to ongoing negotiations.”

MPs will vote on May’s Brexit deal in the coming weeks. If the agreement is rejected, the UK could face a no-deal Brexit.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been contacted for comment.

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