Moving Beyond Brexit : Uniting Cultural and Creative Sectors

On Monday 24 September 2018 more than 60 leading experts from the cultural and creative sectors from across Europe called on Brexit negotiators to address their urgent concerns related to mobility, funding and partnerships, and legal questions surrounding the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

During the expert workshop organised by the Centre for Fine Arts of Brussels (BOZAR) in partnership with the European Cultural Foundation and the British Council, cultural workers, directors, artists, and European federations assembled to raise their voices on Brexit and its potential impact on their fields: from music to design, audiovisual, architecture, visual arts, performing arts, or publishing. Coming from across the UK and the EU, participants clearly expressed their concerns that their interests have been overlooked, and that the importance of these sectors has been underestimated. As one participant put it:

‘The UK is essential. This is a chance too. It forces us to rethink the models. It’s not just the economic argument. The EU was a cultural project to secure peace in Europe. This needs reaffirming. It’s not just about making deals.’

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The day’s discussions focused on the mobility of artists, artworks and the distribution of audiovisual content; the access of UK partners to EU funding streams and collaborative schemes with their continental partners; and legal questions related to copyright, competition rules, internal market, and future trade agreements.  

Given the uncertainty of the situation, the goal of this expert workshop was to reaffirm our shared intent and common values, and to produce practical recommendations from the cultural and creative sectors that go beyond those that have already been made.

This event is the latest in a series designed to put forward actionable next steps for negotiating the current and forthcoming challenges. Participants have expressed that they feel their concerns have not been sufficiently reflected in the political discourse. Additionally there was the sentiment the wider public is overwhelmed, disinterested or fatigued and that there is a lack of awareness across the board of the damage that has already been done, the scope of what is at stake, and what lies ahead. In recognition of the unique historical and mutually beneficial EU-UK relationship and the vital importance of continued cultural cooperation in the future, recommendations from the workshops are outlined below.

Legal Issues:

1. In recognition of the crucial role that the UK government and British Members of the European Parliament have played in the negotiations on the forthcoming Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and irrespective of the timing of the final adoption at EU level, the UK Government should commit to the transposition of the Directive into UK domestic law.

2. Mindful of the needs of the next generation of creative talent, we recommend the introduction of specific arrangements that would allow artists, cultural and creative industries professionals, their teams, materials and equipment to move freely across borders in the UK and the EU.

3. In the event of a Brexit in which the UK is no longer part of the digital single market, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive’s Country of Origin Principle, we ask EU national regulators and Ofcom (facilitated by the Commission and the national Governments) to work towards a framework of mutual recognition for Audiovisual related legislation, in order to promote investment, consumer choice, plurality and cultural exchange.

4.  Students who complete undergraduate or postgraduate studies in UK/EU higher education institutions should have the right to stay and work in the country they studied in for a period of two consecutive years within a five year period. Given the particular nature of career progression in the cultural and creative sectors, to offer these longer periods of time for students to remain or return would provide a more realistic opportunity for the student and the country providing the education to capitalise on the knowledge transfer, the network effects and the economic value of their learning.

5. Given the centrality of international collaboration to work in the creative, cultural and media sectors, we call on negotiators to maintain a robust legal basis following Brexit for: standardisation, competition law including state aid, maintenance of workers’ rights, recognition of professional qualifications and the free flow of data.

Funding & Partnerships:

1. The EU Institutions and the UK Government to provide clarification and firm commitment on the following:

a. Immediate reassurance of UK eligibility for funding programmes during the transition period (in order to avoid negatively impacting hundreds of European partnerships and funding agreements)

b. Clarification of the end date/cut-off point of submission and selection of awarded projects

c. Confirmation of specific guidance on how HM Treasury will guarantee work and practices from all EU funding programmes. 

2. The EU Institutions and the UK Government to ensure full UK participation in European culture and education programmes post-2020.

3. The EU Institutions and UK Government to fully consult and engage the European cultural and creative sector during the negotiations on the Culture and Education Accord or any future agreement and the design and management of European programmes post-2020.

4. The UK Government to establish an initiative/fund (‘European Action Fund’) in order to:

a. Support organisations’ development at the European level and continuing Europe-UK cooperation

b. Mitigate negative impacts on UK cultural organisations as a result of Brexit. 

Mobility:

1. Data collection and analysis of international collaborations with the UK should be carried out immediately (and continued in the long-term) at the regional and national level in order to inform new measures relating to the movement of labour in the arts and cultural sector. This data should inform the perception of UK arts and cultural sector from EU countries.

2. Access to information on administrative issues (e.g. visas, work permits, taxation, social protection, customs, etc.) should be free and accessible to all UK and EU27 artists and cultural professionals. Support from national and local governments should be ensured to set up, maintain and update online information services.

3. Freedom of movement/visas and related work permits: Based on previous recommendations, any new measures should avoid restrictive administrative procedures, and maintain mobility and residency rights for EU workers operating in the UK and vice versa. Regarding visa/work permits, we also suggest different options to facilitate the free mobility of people and goods through different scenarios, to be implemented reciprocally. The ideal scenario is visa-free movement between the UK and EU27 countries. Alternatively, a visa-waiver could be implemented for a certain category of people and/or countries. In parallel to the scenarios above, we recommend testing the House of Lords’ proposed model with other EU countries, including work permits. In all cases, it is crucial to negotiate to maintain the current UK-Ireland travel area where there is no visa restriction.

The event ‘Moving Beyond Brexit: Uniting the Cultural and Creative Sectors’ was co-organised by BOZAR, the British Council and the European Cultural Foundation.