Entertainment unions are exerting renewed pressure on the government to ensure the creative industries are not neglected as post-Brexit negotiations get underway.
Equity, the Musicians’ Union and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, which make up the Performers’ Alliance, came together for an event in parliament urging MPs to help secure a comprehensive deal with the EU that accounts for the sector’s “distinct way of working”.
The Performers Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group has warned that the creative industries could face consequences “very similar to that of a no-deal Brexit” if the government only achieves a bare-bones trade deal by the end of the transition period in December 2020.
Chief among the unions’ concerns is the ability for actors, musicians and other creative workers to tour and perform in the EU, as well as work in Europe flexibly and at the last-minute if required.
They are calling for a reciprocal two-way visa scheme, which would allow access to work in all EU member states and relinquish the need for carnets – permits for moving sets, instruments and equipment.
The APPG said there is “deep concern” that the work of actors and musicians would not fall within the government’s proposed 90-day visa-free travel, and that the administrative burden of hiring workers from the UK would lead to employers looking elsewhere.
A statement from Equity said that now the UK is no longer an EU member, “it is vital that we engage with government to get the best possible deal for our members”.
“Securing an affordable, reciprocal visa scheme that is open to all creative workers is high on our list of priorities but we also need to address a number of other crucial concerns – intellectual property rights, replacement of EU funding if membership of Creative Europe ceases and tax and social security arrangements. The success of the UK creative industries is at risk if we do not secure these foundations,” it said.
The Musicians Union and the Writers’ Guild said their members were “scared” and “anxious” of the knock-on effects if negotiations do not take their careers into account.
According to the MU, more than 53,000 people have signed its petition for a ‘musicians’ passport’ since the referendum in 2016.
It warned that without such a visa scheme in place, musicians could be “priced out of working in the EU because of visas, carnets, tax arrangements and other burdens”.
The union added: “Too often, musicians and creative workers find themselves last in line when actually they are part of a valuable and growing sector of the economy. We have to keep up pressure on government, and make sure musicians working in the EU and the musicians’ passport are top of MPs and ministers’ minds.
“The message is finally getting through, but with negotiations coming up in the next few months, it’s more urgent than ever.”
Writers’ Guild assistant general secretary Lesley Gannon said: “The last thing anyone wants is for one of the UK’s most successful industries to suffer, which is why it is essential that government engages with creators and performers and addresses their concerns.”