Without ease of movement, the impact on creative industries will affect the whole UK economy

Publication date: June 21, 2018
June 21, 2018

Two years on from the EU referendum the UK’s political parties must work to ensure ease of movement of international talent. 74% of the UK’s creative industries believe restricting immigration will severely limit their capacity to do business, and there is a growing risk that the UK may crash out of the EU with no deal come March 2019.

The needs of the creative industries are fundamental to the UK economy. They are the fastest growing sector, responsible for 1 in 11 jobs and worth £92bn GVA - more than oil and gas, life sciences, automotive and aerospace industries combined.

John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: 
“Time is fast running out before we formally leave the EU. We must remain an open and welcoming place to live and work, which means having a future immigration system that is flexible and fit for purpose for accessing both EU and international talent.

Without ease of movement, the impact on the UK economy and our position as global creative leaders will be catastrophic. From broadcasters powerless to employ staff with expertise in key export markets and new technologies through to musicians unable to afford visa and equipment costs to play at our summer festivals, the effects will be far-reaching. Self-employed people and freelancers, who make up almost half the creative workforce, simply will not be able to come to work in the UK.

We call for a fair immigration system which will help secure reciprocal ease of movement for UK workers abroad." 

Andy Payne OBE, games investor and entrepreneur – AppyNation, Just Flight & Good Shepherd said: 
“Two years on and we are seemingly no further forward in resolving the key issues which Brexit has thrown up. The UK has a thriving video games industry and I am directly involved in a number of studios which are world class precisely because they are diverse and hugely talented. 

Our teams are international in nature and have come here to work and contribute to our growth because we are an open, welcoming country which encourages entrepreneurs. Indeed many of the EU nationals I work with are worried about the final decisions that will be made that will directly affect their status and their subsequent rights to move and work freely within the EU. Our industry requires ease of movement, and I really hope the UK government appreciates the huge opportunities our sector provides for our young people.”

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said: 
“As we approach Britain’s departure from the EU, access to talent remains a key concern. A significant number of ROH staff are non-British EU citizens. 

On occasions when a guest artist is indisposed, we need to act very quickly to identify and fly in a suitable replacement. This can often be at less than 24 hours’ notice, and sometimes sooner. The Royal Opera faces this scenario around twelve times each year. Anything that delays entry to the UK, even by a day or a few hours, would cause the cancellation of a performance and so we are heavily reliant on EU nationals to replace indisposed artists.”

Anthony Hudson, founder and director at Hudson Architects, said: 
“I have highly valued international employees and I’m concerned for their future with us in the UK. The ease of movement of talent is crucial within our profession, not only to avoid a debilitating skills shortage, but to ensure the UK can continue to benefit from the value that comes with combining our homegrown talent with the varied skills, knowledge and experience of those who have trained and worked in other countries.

From a regional perspective, I want to remain optimistic about our local economy, but a fair immigration system that enables us to access talent from the EU and beyond is vital.”

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler's Wells Theatre, said: 
“Theatre and the performing arts in the UK have earned themselves a global reputation for world-class performances. It’s particularly important that the existing processes required to present and produce this work don’t become more complicated or costly. 

Our internationalism is fundamental to our role – we’re a place where the world comes to us and where the breadth and variety of the whole programme reflects the diversity of contemporary society, so the flow of talent on a global scale is of paramount importance to us.”

The Creative Industries Federation calls upon government to recognise the importance that the UK:

  • Remain in the customs union and single market, and ensure ease of movement of international talent
  • Ensure creative industries can bring in international (including EU) workers for short term projects and on a permanent basis
  • Ensure reciprocal access to the EU for UK talent to tour, shoot, perform and provide services
  • Ensure quick and flexible access to creative freelancers from across Europe and internationally
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