Scotland's Economy

Brexit barriers facing artists and musicians

February 21, 2021 by No Comments | Category Brexit, Culture, Economy

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has requested an urgent meeting with the UK Government to discuss the impact of ending EU free movement on culture and creative sectors.

In a letter to the UK Culture Secretary, Ms Hyslop urged the UK Government to negotiate visa-free access for artists and other creative professionals touring and carrying out other short-term work between the UK and EU.

This follows a call with Home Office Minister Kevin Foster earlier this week, where similar concerns were raised regarding the new immigration system and barriers affecting creative professionals seeking to work and tour in the UK.

Ms Hyslop said:

“Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit, but Scottish artists and musicians are facing huge barriers to touring and other short-term international work compared to their EU counterparts and will have to understand and comply with 27 different visa regimes. That is why I am urging the UK Government to take action and have requested an urgent meeting with the UK Culture Secretary.

“It remains a fact that Europe is the most important international market for many who rely on touring and action is needed now to support musicians and other creative professionals to tour again, when it is safe to do so.

“It is vital that the UK Government stops its attempts to cut off Scotland’s creative talent from the rest of Europe, and instead seeks to negotiate reciprocal visa-free access for artists and performers touring between the UK and EU.”

Full text of letter:

Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Oliver,

I write to highlight ongoing concerns around the impact of ending EU free movement on the ability of UK creative professionals to tour and carry out other work throughout Europe. I urgently request that we meet to discuss these issues, and explore how the sector can best be supported. You will be aware of the major issues that have been raised by the sector in this area, and the urgency with which they need to be addressed, and so I would welcome the opportunity to work with you to help to resolve them quickly.

As you know, touring and other activities that require short-term international working are vital in terms of reaching new audiences, generating income, collaborating and building networks across borders, and showcasing our creative sectors internationally. While I recognise that we should support our creative professionals to tour throughout the world, Europe remains the most important international market for many who rely on touring and international working, not least for geographical reasons. As such, extensive mobility arrangements between UK and EU are crucial. However, we know that creative professionals now face significant barriers to these activities, including potential visa and work permit requirements, customs rules, and new rules for haulage, with increased costs and administration.

On 16 February, I met the UK Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster MP and we had a positive discussion about inward mobility for the culture and creative sectors, including ways in which the UK visa and immigration system could be improved to better meet the sector’s needs. I will be following up with Kevin on the implementation of recommendations developed by the culture and creative sectors here in Scotland however, there remain major outstanding issues regarding outward mobility, particularly around activities such as touring, where DCMS should take a lead in pressing for further changes. In particular, issues around visa and work permit requirements, and haulage need to be addressed.

I am aware that DCMS, as well as other UK Government departments, are taking forward a range of activities to help to address this, including the establishment of a Touring Working Group of which the Scottish Government is a part, and a range of other actions including enhanced guidance. These actions are most welcome, but while much recent attention has focussed on the music industry, it is important that any actions support the culture and creative sectors as a whole, as a wide range of activities are affected by these issues. It is vital that the Devolved Administrations are fully involved in the development of any actions so that they reflect a truly four-nations approach.

It is evident from the views put forward by a number of stakeholders that more needs to be done to address the issue of visas and work permits directly with the EU, to ensure consistency of arrangements and clarity across all member states. There is potential for the UK Government to seek visa-free and work permit-free arrangements for the sector directly with the EU. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) already contains work permit exemptions for certain short-term activities. However the list of activities permitted on visa-free short term business trips is limited, as are the contractual service supplier and independent professional categories of  Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Professionals such as musicians, artists, performers and journalists do not benefit from either arrangement. Given that the TCA contains a review clause for both parties to revisit the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors, it may be possible for cultural and creative activities to be included in work permit exemptions across all 27 member states without re-opening the entire agreement.

Visa exemptions for certain activities also already exist between the EU and individual countries, and so again it would be possible for the UK Government to explore directly with the EU whether such an arrangement could be put in place for creative professionals from the UK. This could also be done without reopening the TCA.

While there are clearly challenges, I see no reason why the UK Government could not open a dialogue with the EU to explore whether such arrangements would be possible, given their clear benefits to both sides in terms of supporting culture and creative sectors and facilitating cross-border cultural collaboration.

Representatives of the culture and creative sectors have made clear the urgency around these concerns, and I would be grateful if we could meet at an early opportunity to explore the issues set out above, and what other ways our governments can work together to overcome these challenges. I further propose that such a meeting be attended by the Scottish Minister for Europe and International Development, Jenny Gilruth MSP, to ensure that we are able to explore options effectively across relevant portfolios.

I am copying this letter to this letter to Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Scotland; Jenny Gilruth MSP, Minister for Europe and International Development, Scotland; Michael Gove MP, UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Wales; and Deirdre Hargey MLA, Minister for Communities, Northern Ireland.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for  Economy, Fair Work and Culture.


Leave a comment

By submitting a comment, you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy policy to see how the Scottish Government handles your information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *