THE withdrawal agreement the UK reached with the EU ignored the needs of the hospitality and culture sectors, a workshop of industry leaders concluded this week. 

An event organised by the European Movement in Scotland (EMiS) and Glasgow Loves EU saw hospitality and cultural bosses call for a raft of changes to the Brexit deal including simplified customs procedures and cutting the cost and time involved in visa applications for incoming workers and artists.

Leaders also said they want the need for touring artists to have visas to be removed and insisted it must be made easier and cheaper for artists and performers based in Scotland to work in the EU.

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A cut in VAT and tax incentives for corporations and wealthy individuals that support cultural activities was also discussed.

The hospitality and culture industries in Scotland employ more than 260,000 people and contribute more than £10 billion annually to the Scottish economy.

“It’s time to push ideology aside and for the Government to focus on practical reforms that are critical to the financial health and cultural wellbeing of the nation. It is vital that the political world understands the importance of hospitality and culture to Scotland’s economic future," said EMiS chair David Clarke.

The workshop in Glasgow began with the positive news that visitors from Europe to Scotland grew this year and they have been spending more.

Reporting the upturn, Baillie Annette Christie, Glasgow City Council convener for culture, sport and international relations, said the UK re-joining the Horizon programme was good news for the city’s academic sector.

She said: "In 1990, our economy was reborn when Glasgow became European City of Culture.

“Today, we are as committed to Europe as ever and play a central role in the Eurocities Network.

“Glasgow recognises the importance of working in collaboration with our partner cities across Europe as a way of offsetting the damage caused to our society by Brexit.”

Katrina Brown of The Common Guild added she was concerned about “creeping parochialism”.

“Our position as an attractive cultural destination is in danger and we need measures to give us a more secure future,” she said.

Leon Thompson, executive director of leading trade body UKHospitality Scotland, added that since leaving the EU, several programmes have been launched to bring more UK citizens into the hospitality sector.

But with such a tight labour market, he said there remains a significant number of vacancies, with chefs in great demand, along with experienced managers and other specialists.

Thompson said: “To help ensure businesses can trade at their optimal level, we need support from our governments.

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“For example, simplifying and reducing the costs of the worker visa system, streamlining the skills and training landscape and extending the existing Youth Mobility Scheme to the EU 27 would all greatly assist our businesses to expand and invest.”

Musicians, performing artists and technical support specialists have found it increasingly hard to find work in the EU. A survey published in August by the Independent Society of Musicians found that more than 28% of UK musicians now had no work in the EU and 39% had to turn down work due to the costs and time involved in getting visas.

Claire Moran, of the Glasgow based audio-visual company Cryptic, said many musicians have experienced massively reduced incomes because of lack of touring opportunities in the EU.

She added: “Cryptic has toured all over the world and across the EU. Ours is often a collaborative business, which has become much more challenging since Brexit.

“It’s essential we don't deter musicians from touring to the EU or coming to Scotland to perform due to the extra costs and paperwork. We need to ensure we remain European in all that we do. “