Creative freelancers reassured over Brexit talent plan

The creative industry has been issued some much-needed reassurance about the UK beyond Brexit following its branding of immigration plans as ‘disappointing.’

Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, said in a speech that the government understood “loud and clear” that international talent is “important” for the industry’s growth.

Although it is a point which has been made by many, the Creative Industries Federation has been most vocal about the need for the UK to have ‘freelance talent routes’ after March 2019.


Almost in direct reply, Mr Wright told the federation in his keynote address on Wednesday that the government was working with the EU on a “reciprocal framework for mobility.”  

He said the framework would allow businesses to both “provide services” and “move their talented people,” while also ensuring Britons could travel for “temporary business activity.”

His comments will ease concerns among creative firms and consultants, after an immigration package recommended to the government by its advisers omitted temporary movement plans.


“It’s in nobody’s interests to make it difficult for them to do this vital work,” said Mr Wright, referring to British performers, artists and professionals -- freelancers invariably.

“[It’s] not in the interests of the government, not our artists and certainly not the many people who want to see them across Europe and the world.”

Concerns voiced by the CIF about the need for a ‘two-way street’ on freelancers’ movement were also addressed by the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

'The brightest and best'

“Although we want a new immigration system that ends freedom of movement, we also want to continue attracting the brightest and the best in the creative sector, from the EU and elsewhere,” Mr Wright said.

But the details of how the government will achieve its aim will not be unveiled until “the autumn”  -- so anytime from now onwards presumably.

“I see it as part of my role to make sure your views are understood,” the federation was told. “I know that many of you work on projects that span borders and we want to maintain this flexibility.”


Despite his mostly accommodating stance, Mr Wright did suggest that a criticism levelled at the government in the past – back in 2015 but also this year -- was unfair.

“Let us dispense with the idea that we must choose between creativity and technical excellence,” he said, seeming to allude to concern that STEM subjects were being prioritised at the expenses of creative subjects.

“Theatre is blending with film; and computer programming with sculpture. We have virtual reality curatorship, animated artworks, video games scored by classical music composers.”

He added that young people should no longer have to choose between Maths & Science and the Arts, pointing out that today’s tech firms thrive on creativity and creative firms now depend on technical skills.


11th October 2018

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