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House Of Lords warns of lack of clarity on post-Brexit touring

By | Published on Monday 30 July 2018

Houses Of Parliament

The European Union Committee in the UK’s House Of Lords has published a report warning that the live music industry does not have enough information on how Brexit will affect touring in Europe. And that’s both UK artists heading to the continent and musicians from elsewhere in the EU coming here. The report states “the cultural sector urgently needs more clarity on free movement post-Brexit”.

“The cultural sector relies on highly talented individuals, yet often pays salaries that are less than the UK median”, the report says. “Bringing EU cultural workers under the same restrictions as third country nationals could therefore prove detrimental to the sector, because existing visa rules require a minimum salary in excess of what many cultural organisations can offer. As a result, the UK may struggle to attract talent”.

The Committee then recommends the introduction of a ‘touring visa’ which would also improve access to the EU for British performers and their backstage crew post-Brexit. Currently musicians in the UK can move around other EU countries freely, making touring across the entire region relatively frictionless. However, non-EU artists face much tougher restrictions, which can differ greatly from country to country. These restrictions are often costly and time consuming.

Welcoming the report, UK Music’s Director Of Government And Public Affairs Tom Kiehl says: “UK artists and musicians currently build fanbases and get vital employment opportunities by touring the EU, yet there is a real risk that new restrictions on freedom of movement will make this more difficult”.

“Since the EU referendum two years ago, the UK music industry has been united in its calls for reciprocal arrangements to be achieved to allow UK performers to continue to tour the EU with ease”, he goes on. “The government must now take forward the House Of Lords’ sensible recommendations for a ‘touring visa’ for musicians to guarantee UK performers can continue to benefit from EU touring post-Brexit”.

The House Of Lords report follows an interview in the Radio Times last week where WOMAD Festival Director Chris Smith said the current political climate in Britain is already having a negative impact on his event, which brings in many artists from outside the EU. He told the magazine that he is increasingly finding that artists decline to come to the UK to play because of the complex visa process.

“The saddest thing is always the number of artists struggling to get visas to come and perform”, said Smith of his event. “What we’re seeing this year is unexpected and even more depressing, which is artists saying [they’re] just not going to tackle the immigration system, saying it’s too difficult and too expensive, and it’s humiliating. Artists have accepted our invitation and then looked into the visa process and have told us, ‘sorry we’re just not going to do this’. That’s a situation we should be ashamed of”.

“African artists can get as far as, say, Paris or Rome quite easily”, he added. However, “we’ve had situations where, say, an African artist has been due to come who plays a particularly rare instrument, and we’ll be asked, ‘can’t you find someone in the UK who plays that instrument?’, which is absurd”.

Smith added that the continued chaos of Brexit was also putting off artists from visiting the UK. “It’s always, ‘Brexit – what is happening?’ People can’t understand what we are doing”, he said. “It certainly isn’t painting the UK in a good light internationally”.



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