Ian McKellen and Julie Walters sign open letter demanding Boris Johnson renegotiate Brexit terms for visa-free artist travel

Open letter to the PM was published by performing arts union Equity

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 16 February 2021 10:31
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An open letter objecting to parts of the UK’s Brexit agreement has been signed by a number of high-profile actors, including Sir Ian McKellen.

Dame Julie Walters and Sir Patrick Stewart also put their name to the letter that was penned by the performing arts union Equity, which demands visa-free travel for artists across the EU.

“Before, we were able to travel to Europe visa-free. 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,” reads the letter, which is directed towards Boris Johnson.

Miriam Margolyes, Anne-Marie Duff and Celia Imrie also put their name to the statement, which was published in The Guardian newspaper.

The statement continues: “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.”

“Prime Minister, we urge you to negotiate new terms with the EU, allowing creative practitioners to travel to the EU visa-free for work, and for our European counterparts to be able to do the same in the UK,” the letter adds.

The letter claims the Conservative government’s support for performing arts workers has proven inadequate, with some in the performing arts sector having already lost work as a result of the Brexit deal.

The petition states that the current deal, which was agreed late last year, presents a “towering hurdle” to British performers wishing to work in the EU.

Equity general secretary Paul W Fleming said: “Art and entertainment are a British success story. Worth more to our economy than banking, government intransigence threatens a cornerstone of our international soft power and a key export.

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“More than that, the language of art and entertainment knows no boundaries; freedom of movement for our members as artists and working people is achievable, desirable and essential.”

The organisation is also encouraging people to write to their local MP to solicit a re-negotiation of the Brexit terms for arts workers.

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