The new immigration system back to listing

The Government has now announced plans for the new immigration system due to come into effect at the beginning of 2021. Sadly, our fears about the potential impacts on the whole of the cultural sector appear to have been realised. Along with many other art forms, Outdoor Arts looks set to be hit by impossible barriers to engaging with EU artists and cultural professionals. The backbone of so many Outdoor Arts festivals is ‘international’ programming – and clearly the new systems place a raft of new restrictions, bureaucracies and expenses on this part of our work.

As many other bodies have pointed out, the UK Creative Industries are worth £111 billion a year to the economy. In reality, very little of the international movement in the cultural sector is about ‘immigration’ as such, but about free trade of our ‘assets’ – which are artists, performances, crew and companies.

The demands for free movement for those working in the arts and culture have been ignored by the Home Office – and broadly there are two main issues.

Firstly, the new points-based immigration system doesn’t reflect the realities of working in many parts of the cultural sector and the earnings of freelancers.

Secondly, the requirements for engaging artists from the EU are beyond the reach of many UK festivals; as of 2021, in order to perform in the UK artists from the EU will need to:

  • apply for a visa to enter and work in the UK, which will cost £244 for each company member
  • provide proof, 90 days before applying, that each individual has £945 in savings to support themselves (unless they are “A-rated’)
  • provide a certificate of sponsorship from an approved UK event organiser

Generick Vapeur (France) performing at Out There Festival, Great Yarmouth

For Outdoor Arts festivals in the UK booking artists from the EU, the implications are potentially catastrophic for both economic and practical reasons. For festivals which engage large numbers of EU companies, the administrative burden and financial costs will be well-nigh impossible.

Reading further around the subject, there are, of course, ongoing fears that the EU may impose similar restrictions on UK artists entering the EU.

There is a lot more detail to be investigated, but we join other bodies in asking the Government to work with the creative sector to ensure that a system is put in place which allows the creative industries to thrive; we need our ongoing cultural exchange with the EU so that we can continue to contribute to this valuable part of our nation’s identity for both cultural and economic reasons.

Further reading:

THE INDEPENDENT: Priti Patel warned her immigration crackdown will ‘cut the legs off’ the UK music industry

POLITICO: EU touring artists will need visas to perform in the UK from 2021

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES FEDERATION The Federation responds to today’s Immigration policy statement

INCORPORATED SOCIETY OF MUSICIANS Government announces new UK points-based immigration system

GOV.UK The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement

GOV.UK Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (Tier 5)