Open letter to EU & US leaders ahead of the 2021 summit

To the attention of :
Charles Michel - President of the European Council and
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Joe Biden, President of the US

***

As EU and US leaders will meet in June, about 100 organisations from across Europe’s and America’s cultural and creative sectors are uniting their voices to call for attention to the EU-US cultural relations, of particular importance to recover from the Corona crisis.

The EU and the US are highly important export markets for culture. Cultural services accounted for 5,961.5 bln € of export to US in 2019 and for 2,575.1 of import in the EU.

The Corona-crisis has hit both trade partners severely. Concerts, performances and events stood still for more than a year, with no travelling and touring in either direction. According to a study conducted by EY on the impact of the pandemic the music and performing arts sector in Europe were hit worst with 70% and 90% less turnover in 2020. It is expected that only towards the end of 2021 this will slowly resume, with severe consequences on the live events business between the US and the EU.

The cultural community needs a strong political signal which gives hope and prospect.

But the strongest obstacles to make this happen are the difficulties that artists, crew and cultural professionals encounter which relate to cumbersome and costly visa processing when travelling to the USA for the purpose of work and the great variety of conditions US artists face to obtain work permits in the different countries of the EU. Reducing the obstacles to visas and work permits is therefore an essential instrument to bring hope, future and a new start of cultural exchange between the two continents. Toward this ends, experts in the EU and US would be glad to jointly prepare recommendations, and we welcome the chance to provide you with these recommendations.

Whilst the US and EU can be proud of a thriving cultural exchange, we, the artist communities on both sides of the Atlantic call upon you for a solution-oriented approach as regards artist mobility. Artist mobility produces a backbone of additional trade (flights, hotels, catering, hire of local services, road haulage, local taxes, etcetera) and thus generate income for many other side industries.

Reducing the obstacles to visas and work permits is, therefore, an essential instrument to bring hope, future and a new start of cultural exchange between the two continents.

We thank you for your attention.

The full list of signatories can be found here.

Image in banner: Jos Madrigal on Unsplash