The future of Edinburgh’s festivals is under threat from the government’s “current obsession with a hard Brexit”, according to MSP Gordon MacDonald.
He has urged culture secretary Nicky Morgan to safeguard international performers’ access to the events.
MacDonald, from the Scottish National Party, raised the issue of Brexit and the impact it will have on the festivals in Scottish Parliament, and has since written to culture secretary Morgan seeking assurances from her.
He said the government had already introduced “hard-line visa controls” which had resulted in visa applications for performers being “hit by refusals, errors and delays”. This, he said, had led to international performers being forced to cancel trips to Edinburgh.
MacDonald said: “For years now, artists have been deterred from coming here because of the UK government’s humiliating application process and its current obsession with a hard-line Brexit looks like it is going to make the situation worse,” he said, adding: “The UK government needs to open its eyes to the damage it is causing our festivals.”
In his letter to Morgan, he said: “I am writing to express further concern for the festivals following the announcement by the UK government of plans to impose further restrictions on EU workers coming to the UK.”
He added: “The success of the festivals rely on the seamless flow of artists and people from across the world, and the current immigration system has already had a negative impact on the festival’s ability to attract international artists. I’m sure you can appreciate the concerns about even further restrictions for workers entering the UK.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said: “We are committed to ensuring our festivals continue to thrive and can attract leading artists from around the world.”