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Industry figures pen letter to government warning of 'devastating consequences' for touring after Brexit

The letter was unveiled this morning

War Horse is referenced in the letter
© Dan Wooller,

Theatre industry figures and MPs have warned of the 'devastating' impact on European touring after Brexit.

In a letter released today, the government was told of the "devastating consequences of (and possible solutions to) the lack of clarification on provisions of the Brexit deal for the performing arts across the UK."

As noted in the letter, the performing arts in the UK are a major global export, contributing £10.8bn a year to the economy and £2.8bn to the Treasury.

Due to current regulations, set out in the wake of Brexit negotiations, different visa and work permit rules now apply across each of the 27 EU member states, meaning that tour operators may have to provide individual permits for each member state for every individual in their company, on top of being obliged to pay additional fees for transportation of sets, props, instruments and more.

The letter demands that exemptions for such fees be considered and that, in a similar vein to fishery aid, financial support to mitigate additional costs and lost work is given.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said: "Now that the free trade agreement has been concluded with the EU and we are starting to understand its implications, we want to work with Government and our EU counterparts on other mechanisms that will maintain the UK's longstanding international reputation for critically acclaimed, high quality and financially successful theatre exports, whilst continuing to encourage EU colleagues to collaborate with us here.

"Although the sector is largely still focussed on resilience under COVID-19, it takes months to plan productions and we already have early evidence of tours being re-routed and cancelled from EU dates, and profits and jobs leaving the UK and going to Europe."

The letter also states: The international standing and economic success of the whole industry, from West End shows such as War Horse, Matilda The Musical, and Harry Potter, to our world-leading orchestras and dance companies, depends on the relationship with European venues, promoters and audiences, and on the flow of talent."

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