Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians The music sector will not survive COVID-19 and Brexit without an extension to the transition period on
“Going straight from COVID-19 to the end of the transition period without ensuring enough time to negotiate new trading agreements will be devastating for the music profession and the wider music and creative industries.”
“The UK music sector, which contributes £5.2bn to the economy each year, is facing ruin from the dual threats of COVID-19 and Brexit. For many years, the ISM has been highlighting how essential it is for professional musicians to work easily across the EU. In this time of great uncertainty, musicians need to know that their livelihoods will be protected.”
Benefits of EU membership threaten the arts and culture
Collated by Hania Orszulik
The UK arts and culture industry has benefited from membership of the EU in two key ways:
- Firstly, EU funding for arts, cultural and infrastructure projects is provided through such programmes as Creative Europe, the Regional Development Fund and Horizon 2020. The significance of these projects reaches well beyond the immediate stakeholders involved. They boost local employment, increase investment in the local area, attract tourism and indirectly expand local businesses.
- Secondly, the ‘freedom of movement’ system enables the industry to conduct its international operations free from barriers and unnecessary bureaucracy. Such operations include: hosting international artists in the UK, sending UK artists to tour or work abroad, co-commissioning with international partners, and gaining opportunities for professional development. The industry as a whole has far greater engagement within the EU than outside it. Therefore, minimising the loss of these EU advantages should be a government priority in any negotiated deal. SOURCE: Impact of Brexit on the arts and culture sector, Arts Council, 2017.
Impacts of Brexit
Artists and creative organisations have expressed concerns about the negative impacts of Brexit on the industry. Following the transition period, the UK will not be entitled to new funding for arts and culture projects through the programmes described above, although funding for programmes already in progress will continue as agreed.
- Wider impacts of Brexit include barriers to trade in the industry, loss of opportunity for professional development, and damage to industry’s reputation as an international talent hub. SOURCES: Impact of Brexit on the arts and culture sector, Arts Council, 2017; How Brexit will affect the UK music industry, from touring to copyright, Roisin O’Connor, The Independent, 12 November 2018; Continued UK participation in EU programmes, Guidance, HM Treasury, 31 January 2020
- The loss of freedom of movement is of particular concern to the industry, given its reliance on barrier-free cross-border transportation of objects, equipment, collections, merchandise, artists and personnel. A loss of this EU benefit would increase bureaucracy in the transportation of these items. The potential bureaucratic barriers include: administrative costs and complications involved in complying with each EU member state’s immigration rules; obtaining the relevant documentation, including visas, work permits, driving documentation, and travel and health insurance; and administrative and financial costs involved in obtaining carnets, which enable artists to sell merchandise abroad. In turn, this will lead to delays, increased administrative costs and a reduced talent pool to draw from. A likely reaction to an increase in costs and bureaucracy will be a reduction in activity in the associated area of the industry. Many artists and organisations are already downscaling or cancelling events given the threat of a disruptive no-deal Brexit. SOURCES: Impact of Brexit on the arts and culture sector, Arts Council, 2017; No-deal Brexit may make touring Europe ‘unviable’ for UK artists, Laura Snapes, The Guardian, 3 October 2019
- Events held at home are not protected from the impacts of a no-deal scenario. Museums, theatres, performances and other events are likely to suffer a reduced audience as a result of a fall in tourism from the EU. There will be administrative costs and bureaucracy involve in any new customs arrangements regarding the loan of artworks abroad and the borrowing of artwork for exhibitions at home. SOURCES: How a no-deal Brexit could affect arts, culture and heritage organisations, Geraldine Kendall Adams, Museums Association, 17 October 2019; Brexit leaves Tate scrambling to assure EU museums over Van Gogh loans, The Guardian, Esther Addley, 28 March 2019
- Given the industry’s reliance on the freedom of movement system, the least damaging form of Brexit for the creative industries would be one which protects membership of the Single Market, allowing artists to tour freely and continue all related cross-border operations. The government should seek a deal which protects this highly advantageous EU benefit.
Sources and further reading
- Funded projects, Creative Europe Desk UK
- What is Horizon 2020, European Union
- EU exit guide, The Arts Council, October 2019
- Brexit will spell the end of British art as we know it, Bob and Roberta Smith, The Guardian, 12 May 2017
- UK music stars rail against Brexit in open letter to Theresa May, Nosheen Iqbal, 6 October 2018