Our open letter to the government to fix the Brexit crisis

Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming, together with leading cultural organisations and unions, has signed an open letter to Boris Johnson urging him to deliver on his promise to fix the Brexit crisis for the creative industries. The letter, which features in The Times​, has been organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

In the absence of a clear plan from Government, we are proposing four measures to guarantee our sector's survival​.

  • a bespoke Visa Waiver Agreement with the EU for the creative sector
  • bilateral agreements with key individual EU Member States
  • emergency funding to cover additional costs when undertaking work in Europe
  • reduce impact of new road haulage & cross-trade rules

Lobby your MP to fix the Brexit crisis in the entertainment sector

The open letter in full

27 April 2021

Dear Prime Minister,

As representative organisations in the creative industries, we are writing in response to your evidence session with the Liaison Committee on 24 March and the promise you made to fix the crisis we find ourselves in following the completion of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

You clearly understand the deep frustration felt by our sector now that it is virtually impossible for many creative professionals to work in Europe on a short term or freelance basis. As you know the UK creative industries are incredibly successful, generating £111bn per annum for the UK economy. They also of course add hugely to the UK’s profile and soft power.

We were delighted to hear you make a firm commitment to address the range of issues which have arisen as a result of the TCA in relation to visas, work permits, moving goods and people. The creative industries need you to deliver on this pledge otherwise work will be lost and businesses will go under. The sector will do everything it can to assist you and your Government, therefore we would welcome more detail on how your commitment will be delivered in terms of practical steps going forward.

Senior leaders in our sector have had numerous meetings with civil servants, where we have presented a range of workable solutions. However, we are extremely concerned by the lack of progress which has been achieved over the last three months to unravel the mountain of costly bureaucracy and red tape which now faces the creative industries. You stated that the Government is working ‘flat out’ with individual EU member states and we understand that the immediate focus is to improve their guidance around entry and work requirements. However, this by itself is not sufficient to deliver frictionless mobility for our sector which was a commitment during the Brexit negotiations.

In the absence of a clear plan from your Government, we are proposing four measures to guarantee the survival of our sector.

Firstly, your Government should negotiate a bespoke Visa Waiver Agreement (VWA) with the EU for our sector, covering all creative professionals including technical and support staff as well as journalists. We have taken legal advice from a leading QC who has advised us that a VWA would be legally binding and be compatible with your manifesto pledge to take back control of our borders. It would not require a renegotiation of the TCA. We urge you to engage with the EU Commission and move forward with this proposal, which would be hugely beneficial for our sector, add certainty for the future and send a strong message that the UK Government is doing everything it can to protect our world leading industry.

We are also calling on your Government to negotiate bilateral agreements with key individual EU Member States that do not currently offer cultural exemptions for work permits, or which are the most important financially for creative workers.

We appreciate that the above will take some time so we ask for an emergency funding package to be put in place to support creative professionals given the level of additional costs they now face as a result of undertaking work in Europe.

Lastly, we ask that the government urgently take steps to reduce the adverse impact of the new road haulage and cross-trade rules that has made it impossible for UK established touring companies to facilitate pan-European tours; an industry from which 85% of all tours in Europe were operated by UK registered companies. The touring sector is already leaving the UK and re-establishing itself in EU member states and the drain on UK plc. will continue to grow as supporting industries also leave unless a suitable solution is found by the UK and EU.

With scheduling already underway for creative work later this year, you have a limited window of opportunity to resolve this crisis which is threatening our industry.

Incorporated Society of Musicians - Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive
Musicians’ Union – Horace Trubridge, General Secretary
Equity - Paul W Fleming, General Secretary
Bectu - Philippa Childs, Deputy General Secretary
Associated Studios - Leontine Hass, Principal/ CEO
Association of British Orchestras - Mark Pemberton, Director
Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain - Paul Archer, Association Secretary
Association of Independent Music - Paul Pacifico, CEO
Association of Independent Venue Producers - J D Henshaw, Chairman
Association of Photographers - Seamus McGibbon, Chief Executive Officer
BFMA - Elaine Dugas, Managing Director
BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize - Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive
British Arts Festivals Association - Fiona Goh, Director
British Fashion Council - Caroline Rush CBE, CEO
Canterbury Christ Church University - David Wheway, Lecturer
Carry On Touring - Gill Morris, Campaign Coordinator
Carry On Touring - Tim Brennan, Petition Creator
Conscious Beauty Union - Khandiz Joni Towill, Founding Member & Managing Director
Conscious Fashion Campaign - Kerry Bannigan, Founder
Craft Scotland - Irene Kernan, Director
Creative Artists Agency - Mike Greek, Co Head of CAA Music UK
Creators' Rights Alliance - Huma Haq, Policy And Public Affairs Consultant
Dance Base Scotland - Jim Hollington, Chief Executive
David Hull Promotions Ltd - David Hull, MD
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society - Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive
English National Ballet - Patrick Harrison, Executive Director
Entec Sound & Light - Noreen Oriordan, Managing Director
Ethical Fashion Forum - Harold Tillman, Chairman
Fashion Roundtable - Tamara Cincik, CEOFeatured Artists Coalition - David Martin, CEO
Freelancers Make Theatre Work
Glyndebourne Productions Ltd - Sarah Hopwood, Managing Director
Grumpy Old Management - Stuart Camp, Manager for Ed Sheeran
Independent Theatre Council - Charlotte Jones, CEO
International Talent Booking - BarryDickins, Joint Managing Director
Komedia Ltd - Lex Hollingworth, Managing Director
Let Music Live - Jessie Murphy, Violinist and Actor
Logistics UK - Elizabeth De Jong, Policy Director
London Philharmonic Orchestra - David Burke, Chief Executive
London Symphony Orchestra - Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director
Models 1 Ltd - John Horner, MD and Chairman British Fashion Model Agents Association
Motionhouse - Louise Richards, Founder and Executive Director
Music Managers Forum - Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive
Music Producers Guild - Olga FitzRoy, Executive Director
National Union Of Journalists - Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary
One Dance UK - Andrew Hurst MBE, Chief Executive
Opera and Music Theatre Forum - Caroline Forster Anderson, Manager
Opera North - Richard Mantle OBE, General Director
OutdoorArtsUK - Angus Mackechnie, Executive Director
Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra - Anthi Papadopoulos, Chief Operating Officer
PPL - Peter Leathem, CEO
Production Service Association - Dave Keighley, Chair
Professional Lighting & Sound Association - Peter Heath, Managing Director
PRS For Music - Andrea Czapary Martin, Chief Executive
RAE Pacific LLC - Alan Goldberg, Director
Road Haulage Association - Richard Burnett, Chief Executive
Royal Opera House - Oliver Mears, Director of Opera
Royal Shakespeare Company - Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director
Scottish Music Industry Association - Jason Edwards, Executive Director
Shakespeare's Globe - Neil Constable, Chief Executive
Shout Promotions Ltd - Stephen Lowrey, MD
Society Of Authors - Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive
The Entertainment Agents' Association Ltd - Bob James, President
The Entertainment Consultancy - Jack Applebaum, Managing Partner
The Ivor’s Academy - Crispin Hunt, Chair
The LIPA Learning Group - Sir Mark Featherstone-Witty, Founder
The Little Unsaid (band on Reveal Records) - Tim Heymerdinger, Performing musician
The Museums Association - Sharon Heal, Director
The National Schools Symphony Orchestra (NSSO) - John Madden, Artistic Director
The Place - Clare Connor, Chief Executive
UK Music - Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer
#WeMakeEvents - Duncan Bell, Team Leader
Writers' Guild of Great Britain - Ellie Peers, General Secretary
Zippos Circus - Martin Burton, Founder and DirectorAdwoa-Alexsis Mintah, Actress & Producer
Chloé Grant, Model
Active Events - Craig Donaldson, Partner
Actors of Dionysus - Tamsin Shasha, Artistic Director
Adventure Bureau - Katie Storer, Creative Director
Air Music - Alex Le Roux, CEO/Owner
Anglia Artistes (UK) Ltd - Graham Colthorpe, Managing Director
Articulture - Annie Grundy, Co-Director
Assembly Festival - Dani Rae, General Manager
Bash Street Theatre - JoJo Pickering, Joint Director
BBC - Lois Pickup, Makeup Artist
Boss Model Management - Debra M Burns, MD
Brighton Fringe - Julian Caddy, CEO
Brighton Open Air Theatre - Will Mytum, General Manager
Brilliant White Solutions Ltd - Simon White, Director
C venues - Hartley Kemp, Artistic Director
Cindy Thompson Entertainment Agency, Ltd. - Cindy Thompson, Director
Circo Mammamia - Flora Laner, Owner
Circus Mondao - Ryszard Tomaszewicz, Director
Colours Agency - Rosalynd Ramage, Director
CONCRETE - Lindsay Cooper, Director
Crying Out Loud - Rachel Clare, Artistic Director & Chief Executive
DFO Int. Music Agency - Debra Franks, Manager
Donnert's Horses - Latoya Roberts-Donnert, Performer
Earth Music Agency - C Courtney, Company co-founder / Live Music Agent
Eva Clarance Enterprises - Eva Clarance, proprietor
Factory of Creativity CIO (Hope Mill Theatre) - William Whelton, Executive Director
Folk Danmce remixed - Kerry Fletcher, Co Artistic Director
Future Fabrics Expo - Nina Marenzi, Founder
Gelato Music LTD - Ray Gelato, Musician / Bandleader
Gigs Might Fly - Simon Glinn, Director
Give Us A Tune - Ian St James, Director
Globetrotter Live Limited - Shaun Trotter, Director
Gorilla Circus - Ezra Trigg, Director
Happy Promotions Ltd - Patricia Randall, Director
Henderson Management - Richard Herrington, General Manager
Highly Sprung Performance Company - Sarah Worth, Executive Director
Incredible Artists Ltd - A Watson, Director
Industry model management - Diane Flanagan, Makeup artist
Industry People UK Ltd - Martha Poole, Model Agent MD
Jay Millers Circus - Liz Miller, Circus Director
Jellyfish Theatre - Sarah Simpson, Director
Jermyn Street Theatre - Tom Littler, Artistic Director
JK Entertainment - Jackie O'Shea, Owner
Julia Krone Art & Design - Julia Krone, Director and OwnerKastani - Maria Kastani, Founder
Lacuna Coil - Matthew Rowley, Sound engineer
Manchester International Arts - Jeremy Shine, Artistic Director
Marquee Organisation Ltd - Simon White, Director
MATA - Caroline Reason, Director
Midnight Mango Ltd - Pip Martin, Director
Moneypenny Agency - Nigel Morton, Owner
Mrs Robinson Management - Rebi Merilion, Director
Mundo Music Gear - Paul Martin, Director
Music Education Solutions® - Dr Elizabeth Stafford, Director
Musicport - Jim McLaughlin, Festival founder/Director
Nevs Model Agency - Rosemary Franklin, Director
New Diorama Theatre - David Byrne, Artistic & Executive Director
O'Carroll Artist & Project Management - Sinead O'Carroll, Director
One Fiinix Live - Jon Ollier, CEO
Orff Society UK - Sarah Hennessy, Chairperson
Out There Arts - National Centre for Outdoor Arts and Circus - Joe Mackintosh, Artistic
Director and CEO
Presto Music - Chris O'Reilly, Chief Executive
Quinn Artistes Entertainment Ltd - Tracey Cabrera-Quinn, Director
Red Earth - Simon Pascoe, Co-director/lead artist
Russells International Circus - Rusty Russell, Managing Director
Safety Catch Theatre - Garth Williams, Artistic Director
Scottish International Storytelling Festival - Donald Smith, Director
Secret Brunch/ A Brands - Ali Mahdavi, Founder
SHOWstudio Ltd / NK Image Ltd / Liberte Production - Nick Knight OBE, Image Maker /
Company Director
Spitalfields Music - Sarah Gee, Chief Executive
SQP Live Ltd - Simon Quarmby, Managing Director
Starshine Music - John Kenward, Director
Summerhall - Rowan Campbell, General Manager
Talawa Theatre Company - Carolyn ML Forsyth, Executive Director/CEO
Tarquin Talent Agency - Tarquin Shaw-Young FEAA, CEO
TED - Jack Ryan, Agency Manager
The Circus Friends Association - Alan Coates, Vice President
The European Entertainment Corporation Ltd - Anthony Anderson, Director
The Extreme Stunt Show Limited - Anhtony Anderson, Director
The Hive Management - Laura Murphy, Managing Director
The Nest Collective - Sherry Neyhus, Executive Director
The Pleasance Theatre Trust - Anthony Alderson, Director
The Squad Management - Jamie Horridge, Managing Director
Theatre Peckham - Suzann McLean, CEO/Artistic Director
Theatre Workout Ltd - Adam Milford, CEO
Traditional Music Forum (Scotland) - David Francis, Director
Transition Stage company - Natalie Edward-Yesufu, Founder
Vaudeville Productions Ltd - Michael Vishnick, MDTessa Jones, Model
Amelia Windsor, Model
Lucie Mamona, Photographer
Eleanor Debney, Circus performer
2Faced Dance - Jo Valentine, Producer
Aim To Fly UK - Aerial Mel Stevens, Producer
Alex the Fireman - Alexandru Lupu, Artist Performer
American circus UK - Paul Martinez, Ringmaster manager
Art of Circus Ltd - Circus Hassani - Mina Hassani, Director
ArtReach - Beth Piggott, Producer
ArtsAgenda - Bettina Linstrum, Creative Industry Consultant & Coach
BFest Family Fun & Music Event - Claire Quarmby, Partner
Bomber Music Ltd - Donagh Oleary, Director
Charles Chipperfield Circus - Sallyann Roncescu, Circus artist
Charlotte Gallet - Charlotte Barltrop, Freelance Circus Performer
Circus - Ross Shirley, Circus artist
Circus City - Kate Hartoch, Director
Circus Funtasia - Tracy Jones, Circus Director
Circus Mondao - Madalane, Circus director
Circus of Horrors Ltd - J Haze, Director
Circus Pazaz - Matthew Indge, Clown performer & sml family circus director
Circus Starr - Neville Wilson, Director
Circus World Entertainment Ltd - Paul Carpenter, Director
Cirque du Lux - Bianca Renz, Artistic Director
Clarrison’s Hotdogs - Patrick Harrison, Performer
Creative Artists Agency UK Ltd - Emma Banks, Agent
Crystabel Riley - Crystabel Riley, Make-Up Artist
Cultural Freelancers Wales - Deborah Light, Team Members
Cvan Contemporary Visual Art Network England - Paula Orrell, Director
Dave Winslett Associates - David Winslett, Speaker Agent
David Hibling Consultancy - David Hibling, Creative'Director/Circus Consultant
Dazed Media - Jordan Duddy, Fashion And Market Co-Ordinator
Donnert’s Horses - Sandor (Gabi) Donnert, Circus Artist
Earth Agency - Oliver Seaman, Booking Agent
Earth Agency - Naomi Palmer, Owner/Agent
European Folk Network; NKP/All OF The Above Music - Nod Knowles, Administrator; also
freelance organiser
Fantastica! Cirkus Cirkus Börsch - Jörgen Börsch, Proprietor, Circus-Artistes Caster
Fauna Circus - Imogen, Circus Artist
Fool's Paradise Ltd - Nicki Street, Director
Frusion And Fizzion International Creative Arts Agenices - Ian Smith, Owner / Agent
Gandey World Class Productions - Barbara Stanton, Events Manager
Georgian Antiques - John Dixon, Partner
HenleyFestival - Mr Stewart Collins, Artistic director
High Performance Productions - Bryan Donaldson,
Hikapee - Edd Livesey-Casey, Co-artistic DirectorHope Mill Theatre - Joseph Houston, Artistic Director
Independent - Paul O'Leary, Producer
Industry Models - Carl Stringer, Model Booker
International Circus Artiste - Gábor Stift , Clown
ITB - Steve Zapp, Booking Agent
Jade Dunbar Company - Jade Dunbar, Circus Consultant
Jays UK Ltd - Christine Jay, Artistes Coordinator
JLE - Jon Ellis, Merchandiser
John Lawson’s Circus - Beth Endresz, Production manager
Jose Michels Clowns - Giulia Azzario, Artiste
JTS - Ian Jacobs, Freelance Video Engineer
KLC Consulting Limited - Karl Crick, Director
Laughing Horse Festivals Ltd - Alex Petty, Director
Let's Circus - Helen Averley, Circus Creative Director
Lighting & Sound International - Stephen Moles, Journalist
Linden Staub Llp - Tara Le Roux, Director
Lindsay Music - Carole Lindsay-Douglas, Music Publisher
Little Ealing Primary School - Andrew Maud, Head of Music
Lost Dog Dance - Daisy Drury, Executive Producer
Madhead music media ltd - Marcus Birks, Music agent
Malmesbury Carnival - Andrew Dawson, Officer
Milk Management Ltd - Grace Mcgrath, Operations Director
Millennium Circus Productions Ltd - Stephanie Duffy, Circus Director
Mimbre - Lina Johansson, Joint Artistic Director
Model Agency - Sam Coulson, Director
Modelstudents - Robert Dean, Model Booker
Ockham’s Razor - Tina Koch, Artistic Director
One Fiinix Live - Jess Kinn, Agent
Other Half Productions - Jo Galbraith, Performer
Oxford Contemporary Music - Jo Ross, Director
Paulos Circus - Kenny and Kathryn Darnell, Director
Performing Arts - Adela Pazaran, Trapeze Artist
Photographers Management Agency - Claudio Napolitano, Founder And Director Today
Pinders Circus - Michael Leat, Circus proprietor
Pirates of the Carabina Circus - Shaena Brandel, Circus Artist & Co- Director
Pitchbend Productions - Flora Herberich, Producer
Planet circus - Tanya Mack, Circus director
Planet Earth Circus UK - Paul Walker, Circus manager
Polly Philp Set Design @ The Magnet Agency - Polly Philp, Set Designer
Royal College of Music - Raphael Wallfisch, Solo cellist
Scottish Storytelling Centre - Daniel Abercrombie, Programme Manager
Select Model Management - Georgie Dunstone, Manager
Show Productions Ltd - Irina Archer, Director
Showponies - Leila Jonex, Director
SHOWstudio - Charlotte Knight, Talent Agent / Company Director Smart Entertainment - Peter Huntley, Director
Sound Design Services - Martin Pilton, Sound Designer
Spectacular Entertainment/Romantic Corporate - Emma Bate, Creative Director and
Split Second - Axel Satgé, Co-director
Steamhorse - Teejay Brennand, Equestrienne Artist
Stiklings C.I.C. - Georgina Disney, Circus performer/facilitator/director
Storm Model Management Ltd. - Simon Chambers, Director
Streeters - Charlotte Alexa, Agent
Sussex Arts Projects - Beth Martin, Project Manager
Swallow & Amazon Ltd - Kate Smith, Production Manager & Project Manager, Live Events
Tête à Tête - Bill Bankes-Jones, Artistic Director
The Hope Theatre - Kennedy Bloomer, Artistic Director
The Prince of Clowns - Henry, Circus Artist
The Right Project - Joss Whipple, Fashion Consultant
The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre - Natalie Mae Kelly, Events Coordinator
The Trampery Old Street Operations Ltd - Jessica Roper, Head Of Workspaces
The Wall Group - Jenny Coombs, Makeup Artist
The Wonder Circus - Carolyn Roberts, Circus owner
TVAG - Adrian Gooch, Freelance Event Production/Technical Manager
Unique Gravity - Mark Anstey, Agent
Universal Productions ltd - Amanda Russell, Circus Director/Artiste
Vinson&Co - Nick Vinson, Creative Consultant To European Luxury Goods Brands
Whitespace - Mark Gorman, Creative strategy planner
Xtrax And Without Walls (Outdoor Festival Consortium) - Maggie Clarke, Director
Zoo Venues - James Mackenzie, Artistic Director
Fraser Hooper, Clown
Una Palliser, Musician
Andrea Gomez Anzola, Makeup Artist
Charlotte Suggett, Stylist
Claudia Savage, Makeup Artist
Douglas John Coombes, Composer/Conductor
Emily Wouters, Makeup Artist
Ezzie Gladwell, Model agent
Lynn Rae, Massage therapist
Phoebe English, Designer
Sadie Sansford, Hair stylist & Makeup artist
Sjaniël Turrell, Makeup Artist
Elena, Circus performer/High wire walker
Carol MacManus, Circus Director
Salvatore Sambito, Performer
Otto Europa, Musician
Abdelhak, High Wire Walker
Amanda sandow, Trapeze Artist. Horse trainer
Chris Barltrop, Circus consultant and international Ringmaster
Salvo the Clown, Family entertainment E Newcombe, Retired performer
Antonio pio Garcia, Circus artist
Shannon Garcia, Circus admin
Alina Balaneva, Clown Director
Ben Hammett, Lighting & Automation Technician
Catherine Harmer, Stage Manager
Nick Etwell, Musician
Vickki Garcia, Circus artist
Graham F Valentine, Actor/singer/performer
Neil Sadler, Composer
Jazz Moreton, Artist
Katharine Kavanagh, Writer and researcher
Oliver Preece, Professional trumpet player
DirkJan Ranzijn, International Musician
Robert Barton, Musician
Niall Brannigan, Retired
Juan Domingo Morales, 8th generation circus artist