Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law and Keira Knightley are among nearly 300 celebrities and figures from the world of arts and entertainment to put their names to a letter urging Britain to remain within the European Union ahead of next month’s referendum.

The letter states that funding from the E.U. has been vital in supporting all manner of arts projects, both within Britain and on collaborations between European countries. It also estimates that cultural exports from Britain to the rest of the world are worth £18 billion, and that the cultural sector employs 1.8 million people whose positions would be put at risk by a vote to leave.

Keira KnightleyKeira Knightley

“From the smallest gallery to the biggest blockbuster, many of us have worked on projects that would never have happened without E.U. funding or collaborating across borders,” the letter states. “Britain is not just stronger in the E.U., it is more imaginative and creative. Our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.”

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“And what would ‘Out’ really mean? Leaving the E.U. would be a leap into the unknown for millions of people in the UK who work in the creative industries, and for the millions more at home and abroad who benefit from the vibrancy of Britain’s cultural sector.”

“From the Bard to Bowie, British creativity inspires the world. We believe being part of the E.U. bolsters Britain’s leading role on the world stage. Let’s not become an outsider shouting from the wings.”

Benedict CumberbatchBenedict Cumberbatch

Other signatories to the letter, published in The Telegraph on Friday (May 20th), included authors Philip Pullman and John Le Carre, directors Danny Boyle and Sam Taylor-Johnson, comedy writer Richard Curtis and rock star Jarvis Cocker.

The comments were quickly snubbed as a “luvvies’ letter” by Leave campaigners, who dismissed it as fear-mongering ahead of the 23 June vote. Most of the Remain campaign’s energy thus far has seen big-name economic and political figures warning of the dire consequences of leaving, but this has made little impact on polls, which have consistently indicated that the result will be too close to call.

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