Cultural catastrophe: the creative industries’ post-Brexit future
Niamh Walsh explores how the creative industries have been let down since Britain’s departure from the EU and glimpses into what its future may hold.
The advertising company Fold7’s chairman, Marc Nohr, once said that “creativity can have a somewhat counter-intuitive relationship with the economy, in which hard times can bring about a renaissance of the creative spirit”, providing a sprig of hope for the two million people involved within the UK creative industries. However, after a parliamentary hearing into the impact of EU visa arrangement on artists and the consequences of a “no-deal Brexit”, MPs at the digital, culture, media and sport committee hearing told DCMS minister Caroline Dinenage that her department was treated as an “afterthought” by the government, even though they account for roughly 25 per cent of the UK’s economy.
DCMS committee chair Julian Knight commented that “[the cultural sector] which is a world-leading part of the UK economy has basically been left to endure no-deal Brexit.” The government’s poor handling of the creative industries comes at no surprise after their disrespectful ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot’ advert, creating mass controversy back in October. The patronising ad highlighted the lack of care and value the government has for the creative industries, not dissimilar to how they are being treated currently.
The DCMS committee held two sessions to discuss the EU visa arrangements for artists and cultural workers. Layers upon layers of bureaucracy has been created, consequently leading to £600 in visa-related costs for one British pianist who was due to perform at a concert in Spain. Lyndsay Duthie, the chief executive of the Production Guild of Great Britain, said it was more likely that European productions such as ‘Game of Thrones’ (partly shot in Northern Ireland) would now probably avoid the UK altogether because of the extra costs involved, saying “It is possible that people with companies would base themselves in a European centre to avoid some of that red tape, but we don’t want that to happen“. This connects to what many MP’s suspect as an ideological push by the Home Office to deliver the election promise of “taking back control” of UK borders.
The UK is a global leader in the creative industries, however if they keep being side-lined or viewed as an afterthought, their position will only deteriorate.
The CEO of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Deborah Annetts, said the government needed to provide “cast-iron advice” to musicians looking to work in European member states, because at present they have different entry requirements for UK acts. She said: “They know the issues around mobility and carnets, which are the two things that are uppermost in the minds of the music sector at the moment. They should be sorting this out; so far, they have not.”
Dinenage has confirmed that at present, there are no ongoing negotiations with individual EU member states over entry requirements, visas and work permits for artists, musicians or technical crew. The UK is a global leader in the creative industries, however if they keep being side-lined or viewed as an afterthought, their position will only deteriorate. The government needs to stop viewing the creative industries as peripheral to “essential” jobs. The UK creative industries contributes almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour, and overall in 2018 contributed £111.7 billion. We need the creative industries, so let’s stop belittling them and start valuing them.