Brexit could cause “catastrophic” damage to the UK’s booming culture industry, according to a survey of over 1,000 creative companies.
The Creative Industries Federation report into the impact of international talent on Britain’s thriving arts sector, suggests a severe skills shortage is only going to worsen when freedom of movement comes to an end after leaving the European Union.
The Government’s most recent assessment of the creative industry’s value is that it pumps £9.5m every hour into the nation’s economy.
But the CIF says the sector – which includes film, music, TV, fashion and architecture – relies on a highly mobile and international talent pool, often hired at short notice.
Analysis in the Global Talent Report suggests 75% of all the UK’s creative companies employ people from across the EU.
Jellyfish Pictures, which created some of the jaw-dropping effects in Star Wars: Rogue One, employs 200 people, a third of whom are non-UK, EU nationals.
Image: CG supervisor Manuel Reyes Halaby says he is considering other options
Manuel Reyes Halaby, a computer graphics supervisor, says the uncertainty over his immigration status has made him consider other options.
“It makes me feel uncertain about what is going to happen, so you start checking out other possibilities,” he said.
“There are all the other places in the world you can work, and there’s a lot of work going on, so you always tend to have more cards up your sleeve.”
The CEO wants urgent consideration of a Creative Freelancer Visa scheme to avoid an industry “cliff-edge” and ensure fast-track access to the best talent drawn from all over the world.
Phil Dobree told me: “There needs to be a very quick system for getting people in. You may be asked to do another a number of shots in a movie at short notice and if we are not able to do them because we don’t have the capacity, that obviously presents a threat.”
Image: Karen Bradley has said post-Brexit concerns in the creative industry are not widespread
The CIF wants the Government to ensure reciprocal rights for UK workers abroad, to scrap non-EU minimum salary requirements and increase training in UK schools for creative skills, which it claims have been squeezed off the curriculum.
At a recent select committee hearing, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley denied that the concern about Brexit was widespread.
“I have met a number of people in the creative industries – I’m not going to say who they are as it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say – who have told me that they’re not worried about the loss of freedom of movement because they believe the sector will thrive,” she said.
But CIF CEO John Kampfner says that isn’t borne out by his research.
Image: There are calls for a Creative Freelance Visa scheme to prevent a talent drain in the UK
He told Sky News: “We have more than 1,000 companies, organisations, entire creative industries – we’ve spoken to so many of them and overwhelmingly people are incredibly nervous about any restrictions or any strong restrictions on freedom of movement.”
In response to the report’s findings, a Government spokesperson said: “The UK’s creative industries are world-leading and it is crucial we work with this sector to ensure we can capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit.
“After we leave the EU we will have an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK. Crucial to the development of this will be the views from a range of businesses, including the creative industries.
“We will be setting out initial proposals later in the year but we have already been clear that we are seeking an implementation period after we leave the EU to avoid a cliff edge for businesses.”