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UK Music Chief Heads To Cardiff To Discuss Key Issues Facing Music Sector In Wales

09.02.2024: UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl gave evidence to the Senedd on Wales’s future cultural relationship with the EU and met with grassroots music venues to discuss the challenges they face.

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09.02.2024: UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl gave evidence to the Senedd on Wales’s future cultural relationship with the EU and met with grassroots music venues to discuss the challenges they face. 

Tom Kiehl was invited to provide evidence to the Welsh Parliament (Senedd) as part of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee inquiry on Culture and the new Relationship with the EU.

Appearing alongside Eluned Haf, Head of Wales Arts International, and Ruth Cocks, Director of British Council Wales, Tom set out continued concerns from the music sector of the challenges to international touring following the decision to leave the EU.

Referencing research from UK Music that identified 82% of musicians that have been impacted by Brexit have seen their incomes plunge, Tom highlighted the increased cost and bureaucracy of navigating visas, work permits, authorising CITES certificates, cabotage rules and selling merchandise that is having a huge detrimental impact on the ability of musicians in Wales to develop their careers.

Tom called for a Cultural Touring Agreement to be established between the EU and UK in order to tackle these problems. Such an agreement would help Welsh musicians and their crew in particular on the issue of carnets.

Since Brexit carnets are required to enable touring equipment to travel across borders however, the Port of Holyhead, a key link to travel to Dublin in the EU for Welsh bands and artists, doesn’t process carnets. Welsh acts instead have to instead visit an alternative facility miles away and at least 24 hours before travel.

During the session, Tom also joined calls for stronger links between the Welsh and UK Government’s on post-Brexit cultural issues. The key UK-EU Domestic Advisory Group (DAG), a body established under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to take forward civil society dialogue on the continued relationship, only has one Welsh focused organisations amongst its membership.

Following the conclusion of the session, Tom visited Clwb Ifor Bach in the heart of Cardiff’s Womanby Street cultural area. Meeting with Chief Executive of Clwb Ifor Bach Guto Brychan and Head of Music Adam Williams, and Promoter William Dickins, Tom discussed the current challenges facing grassroots sector across Wales.

This is a photograph of four men standing beside a banner that reads Clwb Ifor Bach in large white letters on a black background. Two of the men are holding booklets.

Tom Kiehl with Chief Executive of Clwb Ifor Bach Guto Brychan and Head of Music Adam Williams, and Promoter William Dickins. 

Back in 2017, Clwb Ifor Bach faced significant threats to its future due to a proposed new development along Womaby Street. Following campaigning by the venue, along with other organisations such as UK Music and local political interventions, the threat has subsided yet, it is still a challenging time to run a venue, not least taking into account the impact of the pandemic and cost of living crisis.

Despite the ongoing challenges Clwb Ifor Bach is looking to the future and is seeking to take over the derelict building next door to the venue and join it with the existing space. This would turn the venue into a fully accessible multi-room venue capable of holding up to 1,000 people across all floors. More details on Clwb Ifor Bach’s plans are available here.

To watch the Senedd session click here

To read more about the challenges facing the UK Music industry with touring in the EU see here

To discover more about the issues facing music venues and how we can grow and support music in the UK see here.

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