Entertainment industry divided by EU referendum

Nearly 300 British actors, musicians and writers have urged Britons to vote to stay in the EU, arguing membership makes for a “more imaginative and more creative” Britain.

The likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Danny Boyle and John le Carré put their names to the letter, while comedian Eddie Izzard made the headlines by referring to his early beginnings as a street performer in Covent Garden – something he thanked Britain’s place in the EU for.

The Leicester Comedy Festival, which has included Eddie Izzard in its line-up, warned touring Europe would require comedians booking gigs in the Schengen Area to have visas.

Elsewhere, at the Cannes film festival, veteran director Ken Loach called the referendum “a dangerous, dangerous moment” for Britain.

His Palme d’Or winning entry, I, Daniel Blake, was supported with a €100,000 grant from the Creative Europe Fund.

The fund is just one of many to have helped UK projects over the years. The Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, for example, received €1.5m in funding from the EU’s media programme, while The King’s Speech won €1m, and Slumdog Millionaire €1.3m.

Media Business Insight surveyed 600 people from the media industry on the topic, and found that 67 per cent were of the opinion that Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK’s creative economy.

Not everyone is opposed to leaving the EU though. Leave supporters cite the “Droit de suite” tax imposed by the EU, which requires a payment to be made to an artist or their descendants every time one of his or her paintings is sold, a rule that applies until 75 years after the artist has died.

The tax has been given as the reason for a crash in the UK’s share of sales since it was introduced in 2006.

Mark Millar, comic book writer and Hollywood film producer, said the notion Britain would lose out culturally in the event of Brexit was “genuinely laughable”.

He said: “Yes, the EU has given us some of our own money back for pet artistic projects and is especially generous to creatives espousing the beauty of that unelected cabal. But the notion that we lose anything culturally by taking control of our country’s affairs again is genuinely laughable.

“My books and movies are exported all over Europe and they still will be if we wisely choose to make a break for it.

“Likewise, nobody’s going to stop importing European books, movies, music or artwork anymore than we’ll stop watching American films or reading Japanese comic books if we’re no longer signed up to this thing we were lured into by Ted Heath.”

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Jamie Grossman

Jamie Grossman

Partner at Wilson Wright
Telephone+44 (0)20 7832 0444