18.02.2021, artnet news
Artists are lobbying for the UK government to renegotiate the terms of Brexit to make it easier for them to travel to work in the European Union.
Before Brexit, British artists could travel freely throughout the bloc. But that came to an end when the UK exited the union late last year, and now artists are subject to the individual visa restrictions imposed by member states—a bureaucratic obstacle that may prevent some from getting work outside their home country.
Now, artists and other cultural workers are speaking up. This week, a band of famous actors, including Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, issued a public letter to Boris Johnson, imploring the Prime Minister to renegotiate the terms of the deal.
“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,” the letter reads. “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.”
The letter was organized by the Equity actors union, but Brexit’s terms apply equally to visual artists, musicians, and other creatives. Under the current terms, UK artists hoping to travel to the EU to perform, exhibit their work, study, or take part in other professional activities will likely have to apply for a visa or a short-term work permit. Depending on their destination, that could mean hundreds of dollars in fees, stacks of paperwork, and weeks of waiting.
Artists from other European countries, meanwhile, can travel to the UK visa-free for up to six months (or, if they are paid, up to one month).