In a year which everyone, and especially those in working in Theatre, would rather forget, today’s news that Britain and the EU have agreed a deal following the decision of the UK population to leave the union will come as a huge relief. While many opposed the decision (victory came with a narrow 52/48 vote to leave), others felt strongly that the UK would be stronger standing alone in the world. Whether they were right will become apparent in the coming years. What is clear is that leaving without a deal in place would have been a disaster.
In a nail-biting Christmas Eve season finale, Ursula Von Der Leyen and Boris Johnson, after months of tense negotiations, finally reached an amicable agreement allowing the two sides to trade without the need to adopt World Trade Organisation terms, which would have proven costly for both sides.
However, freedom of movement will end and although the deal is infinitely better than a no-deal outcome, details are yet to emerge of exactly what this will mean for many of us, including our industry. Theatre performers and freelancers, including crew and touring companies, have enjoyed unrestricted travel within the EU for many years and any change to current arrangements may complicate the ease with which plans could be made, including how long UK citizens can work freely in continental Europe.
We will be keeping a keen eye on further details as they are announced, and the fine points of the agreement when it is published. Let’s hope that this Christmas Eve, and the new deal, sees new opportunities rather than closed doors and burned bridges. The deal will now be be scrutinised before it is voted on in Parliament by 31st December – so there will be a great many Christmas & Boxing days now spent poring over 2,000 pages of detailed legal text.
2021 will be a uniquely challenging time for Theatre. A Covid vaccine is on the way so there is much reason for optimism, but there are rough seas still to navigate before we can steer the Entertainment Industry safely in to harbour. Let’s hope this deal doesn’t leave our industry on the rocks.