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FT Letter: EU has brought immense benefits to our arts scene

Originally published in the Financial Times on 10 February 2017
16 February 2017

Sir, Further to your report “Opera houses fear diva crisis if EU split hits wrong note” (February 4): after working for more than 51 years in music and the arts, I remember very well the negative effect of labour permits and restrictive practices before full membership brought us free movement within the EU and immense benefits to UK artists and creative enterprises.

Previously, the UK maintained one of the most limiting systems of quotas and restrictions in the face of much more generous and flexible regimes elsewhere in Europe, but ever since the barriers came down we have benefited the most, succeeding in many ways in exporting the debt created by underfunding within the UK to other EU countries with much more generous public subsidies. In this way British orchestras, theatre and dance companies, pop and rock artists and creators of all kinds of artistic content have enjoyed a vastly increased market, whereas the opportunities for EU and non-EU artists and creators in the UK are much more modest.

Let Brexiters be under no doubt that in addition to the costs, delays and clumsinesses of the reciprocal reintroduction of working permits, unions and special interests all over Europe will insist on limiting access by UK performers to their local markets — and national local governments will back them in doing so. Thus the invaluable advances in reputation and earning power of one of the UK’s predominant brands — that of our arts and culture — will be severely damaged.

Jasper Parrott
Executive Chairman, HarrisonParrott

Original Letter in Financial Times