- 16 Feb 21
The letter also has signatures from Julie Walters, Miriam Margolyes, and Celia Imrie.
On February 16th, British MPs are set to question Digital and Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage over the government’s handling of Brexit negotiations regarding visa-free deals for touring artists in the European Union. The government failed to acquire these deals while negotiating Brexit, leaving thousands of artists reeling.
Actors Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are among the latest names to add their voices to the throng, calling for the ongoing argument to be resolved.
Last week, Dinenage's response to a debate in Parliament was to reject the idea of a visa-free "musicians passport" for artists and touring crews. She claimed the EU was at fault for failing to secure the deal in initial negotiations.
A large number of high-profile artists – including McKellen and Stewart – have signed a new letter from performing arts union Equity, addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The letter calls for the government to alter the "towering hurdle" the new Brexit rules represent for people in the performing arts industries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are also signatures from Anne-Marie Duff, Miriam Margolyes, Julie Walters, Juliet Stevenson and Celia Imrie.
“Before, we were able to travel to Europe visa-free,” the letter says. “Now we have to pay hundreds of pounds, fill in form after form, and spend weeks waiting for approval – just so we can do our jobs.
“For a sector that is deeply embedded in the international community – from touring theatre and dance to film, television and commercials – which must work fast, flexibly and to demand, this is a disastrous blow and will hit those already struggling and marginalised groups the hardest.”
Read the full letter here.