Unlike any other industry, the creative sector is unique in that it cannot be outright regarded as ‘British’, or any other nationality for that matter.
While the production industries manage British produce and manufacturing, and business services manage British businesses, the arts – at their core – cannot be, and never were, confined to one nation. They are completely fluid by nature. Ever since the first instance of an individual’s creativity supplying them with any sort of gain, art has been shared with anyone and everyone, across all borders and all peoples.
Now while that may seem rather whimsical, applying Brexit to the fluidity of the creative industries industries leads to very real financial issues. One of the most significant of these is to do with touring. The end of free movement between EU countries means that touring artists – primarily musicians – will be faced with high costs and tiresome waiting times when applying for visas to play in European countries, as well as for the rest of the world. Also, touring artists will have to carry out a carnet – a list of all the equipment they aim to bring across the border – and if any single error is made, they will be held until they are able to re-audit. This process can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of touring, on top of travel and visas.
In the age of streaming, touring is now the primary and most vital part of a musician’s income. While it may not affect famous artists as much, the costs and disruption to touring in Europe for up-and-coming artists will no doubt lead to potential talent being driven away from a creative career. Due to the prevalence of streaming services, it is common for a British musician to have their main support base in a different country. However, with the end of free movement, the necessity to play shows in that country would likely be detrimental for the artist’s financial situation, despite selling many tickets to their gigs.
The monetary impact does not just apply to individual artists. A significant impact to the economy is at stake too. A UKMusic.org study found that 10.4 million “music tourists” came to the UK in 2015, spending a total of £3.4 billion. Seeing as the end of free movement will impact incoming artists as well as outgoing ones, fewer EU artists will choose to tour in the UK, and fewer tourists will be attracted to the remarkable music culture inherent in our country ever since The Beatles.
Freedom of movement has also proven to be an issue of great concern to the UK’s dance sector, and not only due to touring setbacks. One Dance UK found that, on average, the workforce of performing companies is comprised of around 25%-50% EEA migrants. EU funding for UK dance companies and schools also plays a huge part in their ability to produce some of the world’s greatest dancers, and contributing to the education, health and wellbeing of thousands in our country. Seeing this funding compromised due to Brexit could be potentially disastrous for the UK’s dance sector.
The UK boasts one of the world’s most creatively gifted populaces, and with that prestige comes these industries’ great boosts to our economy. It’s a dire shame that, with its uncertainty and “big picture” approach, Brexit could stifle our own artistic talent. The government needs to set out their plans for the stability of our artists, musicians, dancers, comedians, and others who currently feel like their career is in a state of limbo, and they need to do so quickly.