Post-Brexit visa rules could damage museum sector, MA warns

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 30.11.2016
Low-paid and freelance museum jobs may not meet immigration requirements
The Museums Association (MA) said it is highly concerned about the impact that the introduction of a strict new visa system after Brexit could have on museum sector.

In its response to an inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Britain’s exit from the EU, the MA warned that any visa system that included a minimum earnings requirement would be damaging to the sector.

The MA’s response stated: “Museum employment is not generally highly remunerated, and many posts would not meet the existing minimum salary requirement for Tier 2 visas of £35,000 p.a. In addition, a growing proportion of the museum workforce is freelance, and would not qualify for entry.”

The MA called for new immigration rules for EU citizens to “ensure that those in the cultural and creative sectors – including those at an early stage in their careers – are able to work in the UK and contribute to our cultural life”.

The MA also said it was concerned about the “substantial uncertainty” faced by EU citizens working in museums, whose status has not yet been clarified. The government’s use of their presence as a bargaining chip risked “stripping expertise and manpower from the sector and [making] the UK a less attractive place to work”, said the response.

The MA warned that new immigration rules and the tone of debate around immigration could damage museums’ ability to attract and retain staff from across the world.

In addition, the response raised concern that UK museums would face substantial recruitment and training costs to fill large numbers of roles in areas such as front of house, cleaning and catering that may be vacated if EU citizens lose their right to work in the UK.

The response went on to examine the potential impacts Brexit could have on a number of other areas of museum work.

Responding to a question about copyright management, the MA said any post-Brexit changes to legislation could affect activities such as sharing records of orphan works; securing copyright exceptions; and advancing changes to copyright legislation that would assist in the care of and public access to museum collections.
The MA also said that, in spite of the government’s commitment to uphold EU funding for UK projects, many museums were already losing out on funding “due to the uncertainty and antipathy caused by the referendum vote amongst project partners in other EU countries”.

Uncertainty around future funding also posed a particular risk to projects that were long-term in nature, said the response, such as local tourism initiatives.

The select committee inquiry, which has a remit to explore the impact of Brexit on creative industries, tourism and the digital market, is accepting written submissions until the end of December and will report its findings in the new year.


MA response to CMS Committee Brexit consultation (word)