Selling and exhibiting in the EU
Ceramicist Anna Thomson has spent hours piecing together the requirements for export, and is now turning her attention to how she might exhibit at a gallery or event in an EU country, which she believes is unclear. ‘What paperwork would need to be done to allow work to be taken into an EU country without paying the import taxes as the work is not sold?’ she asks. ‘Then, what if a piece gets sold? Do I have to take it back to the UK and then send it back again? I don't think the system is very well suited to the way artists and craftspeople operate, but I hope all will become clearer as these initial months pass.’
Glass artist Colin Reid shows work with several galleries in the EU, with whom he has built up relationships over decades. After scouring the ‘bewildering mass of generic information’ on the government website, attending a DIT webinar and emailing his MP, he has concluded that there are ‘no gains at all’ amid the major new barriers and costs that Brexit has brought about. The rules, he says, are difficult to interpret but if EU galleries now have to pay VAT on the import of sale or return work, not only at the point of sale as before, it will cause problems. ‘It would be a big disincentive to show UK artists,’ he says.
The situation is also unclear when it comes to work once it’s in the EU. Reid asks: ‘Can it be sent from one gallery to another, possibly in another country and then returned from a different one than the country shown on the original export document? What about large survey exhibitions? And will museums then be able to buy work from this type of show if the paperwork only covers temporary movement of the artwork.’
Textile artist Caroline Bartlett says that, as a maker, she ‘now feels constrained by the borders of Great Britain,’ while also pointing to problems exhibiting in the EU – the requirement for a carnet or duplicate list to transport works temporarily. ‘Experience to date is that the work can end up wrapped in customs or with VAT to pay if the work is not returned within a specific time limit, resulting in weeks spent challenging the decisions,’ she say. ‘The added complications mean I will be wary of applying for biennales or other events as it is expensive and bureaucratic to send goods.’
As the Crafts Council continues to gather case studies, read our Brexit advice for makers and craft businesses for the latest information.