29 October 2020
Equity and its sister unions have written a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, warning workers in the industry could miss out on much-needed working opportunities due to Brexit.
Equity, The Musicians’ Union, and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain have urged the Government to come forward with guidance and to stick up for creatives at the ongoing negotiations.
Musicians, creative practitioners and writers face hardship caused by the pandemic, which has put a stop to live performance and new commissions. At the same time, uncertainty caused by Brexit means finding new work after the transition period ends in January looks more and more challenging as the final countdown begins. Many performers represented by the unions say they need opportunities to work in Europe more than ever.
In a letter to Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, the unions write: “at this time of extraordinary disruption to performers and writers, the full impact of Brexit and crucially, what we need to do to prepare remain unclear”.
They call on the Government to clarify their position on ensuring creative work across Europe remains viable for British artists. They also ask for the Government to set out its position on copyright and the position of the arts in future trade deals, amid fears that the impact of leaving the bloc on the creative industries is not top of the agenda.
Paul W Fleming, Equity's General Secretary, said “The pandemic has hugely hit incomes of a wide variety of people working in theatre and performance – performers, stage managers, costume designers and others. Our members still have bills to pay. If working in the industry becomes unviable, the rest of the country will miss out on the arts and culture they love for years to come. Now is the time for the Government to provide the industry with reassurance that it won’t be unnecessarily disadvantaged due to Brexit."
“We lack any clear information on what the Government is doing to ensure performers can take up work opportunities in Europe after January. Our members need to know they will be able to work and travel freely before they can plan their jobs. The Government should make their position clearer,” said Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the MU.
“With most British writers being self-employed and already experiencing hardship due to a lack of new commissions across the sector, now is not the time to be closing off opportunities to work. Equally its vital that British writers are not disadvantaged compared to their European counterparts when it comes to copyright protection and the ability to benefit from ongoing use of their work,” said Ellie Peers, General Secretary of the Writers’ Guild.