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The National Theatre Halts 'Financially Unviable' Post-Brexit Europe Tour Plans

4 min read

The National Theatre says it can no longer afford to put on blockbuster shows including 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' in the European Union because of Brexit.

The cost and paperwork brought about by the government's trade deal with the bloc have made it "financially unviable".

The world-renowned performing arts venue based in London told PoliticsHome that it was "not able to confirm any touring commitments in Europe as a result of Brexit legislation".

The theatre had planned to take its production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time around the bloc once EU countries had lifted lockdown measures, potentially later this year.

However, a spokesperson said that the cost of obtaining work permits for the travelling cast and crew, as well as the other new hurdles resulting from the government's post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, means "regrettably it is currently not financially viable".

They said: “We're awaiting further details of ongoing negotiations in this area and hope that in future we will be able to return to mainland Europe, however due to the amount of time needed to plan a tour we're not able to commit to European touring until we have clarity around these points".

Boris Johnson is being urged to return to the negotiating table with Brussels amid warnings from the UK's creative industries that new barriers to visting the EU make it much more difficult and costly for musicians and performers — particularly up-and-coming talents — to tour Europe.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday heard that touring companies were close to collapse and UK performers were losing planned work in the EU due to the new barriers.

Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Deborah Annetts, told MPs that the music industry faced an "extraordinary crisis" with some musicians considering quitting altogether.

There was no agreement for touring performers in the UK-EU free trade deal struck in December, with both sides blaming each other for the lack of protection for the industry in the treaty.

UK artists and their touring staff now need work permits costing hundreds of pounds to visit EU member states, while hauliers carrying their equipment around the continent are limited to just three stops.

Alastair Jones, an official in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told the commitee yesterday that the government planned to hold bilateral talks with individual EU member states about removing the costly new barriers to performers "very shortly".

A UK government spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “Touring in Europe is currently not possible due to Covid-19 and EU member states have not set out plans for when it will be.

"We are working urgently with the UK’s creative industries to help ensure they can work confidently in Europe once touring can safely resume".

Actors Ian McKellen, Julie Walters and Patrick Stewart recently wrote to ministers warning that artists and touring staff faced a "towering hurdle" if they wanted to perform in Europe.

A third of actors recently told performing arts trade association Equity that they had seen job adverts asking for applicants only with EU passports.

Actor Cyril Nri on Tuesday told BBC Newsnight that creative industries, which are estimated to bring in around £112 billion a year, were suffering a "double whammy" with the pandemic compounded by the impact of Brexit.

“People are going to stop employing us," he said. "We're going to lose a cultural exchange and the ability to bring in huge amounts of revenue to this country and to develop the actors of the future”.

Nri said that it was the "young actors" and "people coming up" who would be affected the most, with the new barriers to travel making it "economically impossible" for them to tour the continent.

"When I was coming up as a young actor, you had small companies like the Actors Touring Company and Shakespeare In Italy, which take directors like Bill Alexander to do workshops of The Merchant Of Venice in Italy.

"They’re talking about spreading British culture and yet you’re killing it, killing it at the knees".

Alison McGovern, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture & Sport, said: "This is yet another grim consequence of Conservative failure to support the incredible UK creative industries.

“As much as any diplomat, actors and creative professionals carry the UK reputation globally and putting rocks in their road is totally counterproductive to all our interests".





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