One in four migrants working in the cultural sector are considering leaving the UK, reveals poll

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13th November 2019 14:21 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

One in four migrants working in the cultural sector are considering leaving the UK: A new survey commissioned by support network and action group, Migrants in Culture, has found that 25% of migrant arts workers are thinking about leaving the UK due to the government's 'hostile environment' policy on immigration. The policy was introduced in 2012 by Theresa May, during her time as Home Secretary. 

The research, commissioned to understand more about how the policy has impacted the cultural sector, questioned 614 migrant and non-migrant arts workers in and across the UK working in museums, theatre and dance, visual art and music.  The number of migrant workers (a person who has changed their country of residence to UK) polled for the research was 417. 

The survey found that six out of ten (60%) people working in the cultural sector who identify as migrants said they have been subject to an increase in discrimation or racial profiling since the policy was brought in seven years ago, while 58% said they have suffered increased emotional stress. Four in ten migrant respondents also reported an increase in financial pressures as well as a decrease in the number of opportunities available to them. More than half said they have experienced an increase in bureaucracy since its introduction in 2012, with 38% reporting they have had their right to work or study in the UK questioned (38%). 

The survey also revealed that nine out of ten (90%) people polled said they felt 'fearful' or 'angry' when considering the impact of the policy, while more than six out of ten (65%) migrant respondents said they think daily or weekly about the impact of the policy. Three in ten said it made them feel 'disempowered' .

Almost half the people surveyed who identify as people of colour said the introduction of the policy has meant they have experienced racial profiling, while almost eight in ten (79%) said that their workplace offered no support when it comes to the impact of the 'hostile environment' policy. 

Almost six in ten (59%) people polled in the study who were in a management role, governance or human resources (20% of respondents) said they lacked knowledge about 'hostile environment', with 55% saying they lacked the resources to offer support to staff who needed it. Almost half (48%) reported that organisational policies for migrant staff are lacking. 

One of the founders of Migrants in Culture, performer Xavier de Sousa, said: “Sometimes the migrant experience within this industry is a very singular one and you think: ‘Maybe this is me, maybe I’m not adequate for this’, but then you see these figures and you go: ‘Actually, no, this is a collective struggle.’

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