Creative Concerns- IAS

Bristol’s Bustling Creative Sector: Preparing for Brexit
As the UK hurtles towards the final weeks of its lengthy build-up to Brexit, the nation is more confused than ever as to what will happen next. With the goal post continuously pushed further and further away, the most recent date set for Britain’s exit from the European Union is 31st October 2019.
With such limited time remaining for businesses and EU nationals alike to digest the often vague guidelines on how to prepare for Brexit, workers from the creative sector are just one of many who have spoken out on feeling neglected. As a bustling hub of creative talent, Bristol’s creative companies make up a whopping 10% of the local economy. From BIP (Bristol Independent Publishers) to Aardman Animations, Bristol is home to a range of thriving creative businesses contributing to the city’s commercial success. It’s clear to understand, then, why fears for a post-Brexit future plague many creative Bristolian minds.
The Creative Industries Federation has repeatedly issued concerns for the creative sector in the wake of Brexit, with chief executive Alan Bishop arguing: “Our ability to attract talent, tour freely, and trade on our doorstep is vital to the ongoing success of the creative industries and to the UK as a whole”.
In the case of a no-deal Brexit, European countries would be well within their rights to reciprocate Britain’s hostility by immediately ending freedom of movement for UK citizens. This may mean a catastrophic combination of border delays and visa requirements for all, posing a threat to creative workers who rely on travel around Europe for the likes of rehearsals, gigs and research purposes.
Despite the EU announcing in November 2018 that UK citizens would not require a visa to travel Europe, this was on the condition that the UK returned this allowance. So far, with the Home Secretary Priti Patel pushing for an immediate end to free movement for EU nationals and Boris Johnson’s proposals of an ‘Australian style’ skills based visa system, it may be the case that Europe will mirror this by refusing UK citizens a visa-free pass.
How can EU creative workers prepare?
According to a House of Commons report, approximately 131,000 EU nationals make up the UK’s Creative Industries workforce. For those EU creative workers currently residing in the UK, the EU settlement scheme is a crucial first place to start if you have not already applied.
The EU settlement scheme is open to all those who arrive (or have already arrived) in Britain by 31st December 2020, have lived in the UK for five years continuously, and have been exercising ‘treaty rights’ throughout this time. This means you must have been either employed, a student, a job-seeker, self-employed or self-sufficient.
For those who have not lived in the UK continuously for five years at the time of applying, you will be eligible for ‘pre-settled status’. As soon as you have ‘exercised treaty rights’ in the UK for a consecutive five years, you can switch from ‘pre-settled status’ to ‘settled status’.
With settled status, you can stay in the UK for as long as you wish to and will be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
For EU creative workers who often work in the UK on a temporary basis, there is hope yet that the government will introduce a ‘touring passport’ – as advised by former Labour MP Michael Dugher – to alleviate concerns surrounding visas and additional costs, however this remains an uncertainty.
At this point, we can only hope that the government takes on board advice from the likes of the
Creative Industries Federation and the Arts Council – especially in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Holly Barrow is a political correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service, an organisation of
immigration lawyers that provides Legal Aid support for asylum-seekers and refugees.
Words by Holly Barrow