Dear Prime Minister: Negotiate EU visa-free travel for creative workers

Dear Prime Minister,

We must speak plainly. This is a bleak time for British creative practitioners.

We are actors, singers, dancers, designers, directors, stage managers, comedians, audio artists, variety performers and creatives – represented by our trade union, Equity – who are passionate about our professions and want to keep working. But the current Brexit deal is a towering hurdle to that.

Before, we were able to travel to Europe visa-free. Now we have to pay hundreds of pounds, fill in form after form, and spend weeks waiting for approval – just so we can do our jobs. 

Some have already lost work in Europe or are being turned down for potential employment, because of the cost and bureaucracy that now comes with hiring British talent. Job advertisements and castings have even been asking for EU passport holders only to apply, which 29% of Equity members say they have seen.

For a sector that is deeply embedded in the international community – from touring theatre and dance to film, television and commercials – which must work fast, flexibly and to demand, this is a disastrous blow and will hit those already struggling and marginalised groups the hardest. 

And the timing could not be worse. Our industry – worth £112bn to the economy each year – is reeling from the closure of venues and the banning of live events as a result of the pandemic. 

Many have fallen through the gaps when it comes to financial support – 40% of Equity members are not eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. And those looking for secondary jobs in sectors such as hospitality can’t find them due to the impact of Covid-19.​

Prime Minister, we urge you to negotiate new terms with the EU, allowing creative practitioners to travel to the EU visa-free for work, and for our European counterparts to be able to do the same in the UK. Not acting now will do further and irreparable harm to the UK’s creative workforce, our industries and to our standing on the international cultural stage.

Abiola Ogunbiyi, Alan McKee, Alec Powell, Amy Blake, Ann Mitchell, Anna Madeley, Anne-Marie Duff, Ayvianna Snow, Bernie Kayla, Bertie Carvel, Bryn Evans, Catherine Orton, Celia Imrie, Celia Twining, Chris Gallarus, Christina Nelson, Christopher Batten, Cliff Evans, Conk the Clown, Cyril Nri, Dan Ayling, Dan de la Motte, David John, David Richey, Dawn Hope, Di Christian, Elaine Stirrat, Elizabeth Holland, Emmanuel Kojo, Flora Wellesley Wesley, Freya Dominic, Gerard Cooke, Guy Woolf, Harriet Walter, Helen Raw, Hywel Morgan, Ian Barritt, Ian McKellen, Isabella Jarrett, Isla Blair, Jackie Clune, Jamie Byron, Jane Pulford, Jean Rogers, Jennifer Greenwood, Jester Jim, Johnny Worthy, Julian Glover, Juliet Stevenson, Julie Walters, Kelly Burke, Ken Pollack, Kim Hicks, Laure Meloy, Lola May, Lucille Ferguson, Lynda Rooke, Maggie McCarthy, Marie Kelly, Mark Bonnar, Martin Jarvis, Maureen Beattie, Maureen Hibbert, Mary Lane, Mel La Barrie, Miriam Margolyes, Mjka Anne Scott, Murray Hecht, Natasha Gerson, Nelson Ward, Nicholas K Brand, Nick Fletcher, Nick Putz, Patrick Stewart, Paul Mead, Paul Valentine, Peachy Mead, Pete Keal, Peter Rylands, Philip Simon, Rhubarb the Clown, Richard Hope, Ricky Tomlinson, Rosalind Ayres, Rosie Hilal, Sally Treble, Sam Swann, Sara Wookey, Sarah McCourt, Sheila Hancock, Sheila Mitchell, Shenagh Govan, Sian Jones, Siobhán Redmond, Sorcha Brooks, Stephanie Greer, Stephen Beggs, Su Gilroy, Summer Strallen, Sunny Dhap, Tanya Franks, Tim Parker, Tom Ingram, Tony Gardner, Tony Robinson, Will Keen, William Wyn Davies, Xander Black, and Yvonne Joseph