UK Music echoes House of Lords’ warning over impact of Brexit on live tours

The report from the influential House of Lords’ European Union Committee said “the cultural sector urgently needs more clarity on free movement post-Brexit”

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26/07/18: UK Music has welcomed a report today (Thursday) that urges the Government to combat the potential impact of Brexit on touring musicians.

UK Music’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Tom Kiehl addressing the Lords’ European Union Committee

The report from the influential House of Lords’ European Union Committee warns “the cultural sector urgently needs more clarity on free movement post-Brexit”.

The report from the cross-party group of peers says: “The cultural sector relies on highly talented individuals, yet often pays salaries that are less than the UK median.

“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 warning to Theresa May and the Government follows calls from UK Music for urgent action to ensure the UK music industry and live touring is not damaged by Brexit.

The report recommends that the Government introduces a “touring visa” to enable UK artists, musicians and crews to perform across the EU following Brexit – a proposal strongly backed by UK Music.

Leaving the European Union could result in new rules that restrict freedom of movement for people. This could have a serious impact on touring musicians and crews in terms of extra costs and delays.

At present, there are no travel restrictions for UK artists performing in the EU. This means artists can play a gig in Amsterdam one night and then travel to Paris for a concert the next with no associated costs, red tape or other financial burdens.

Artists and musicians from outside the European Union are treated differently. For example, France requires work permits for performances by artists from non-EU countries. These can only be acquired following a lengthy and complex process administered by French promoters. For UK artists, who are used to short-term visits, this would be a major and costly change.

In February, UK Music’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Tom Kiehl and Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge warned the Lords’ European Union Committee about the impact of Brexit on the music industry.

The Committee’s report reflects their warnings and outlines a number of recommendations to prepare for the impact of Brexit.  These include a key request from the UK music industry for a touring visa.

The report calls on the Government to seek a commitment for an EU-wide multi-country, multi-entry short-term ‘touring visa’ for UK citizens, and offer a reciprocal commitment for EU citizens.

This would enable self-employed persons to travel for short-term visits between the UK and the EU, recognising the two-way benefits that accrue from allowing artists, entertainers and other cultural sector workers to move freely between the UK and EU to tour and work on short-term contracts.

Commenting, UK Music’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Tom Kiehl said: “UK artists and musicians currently build fan bases 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.

“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.”

General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, Horace Trubridge, said:

“The MU is extremely pleased that the House of Lords’ European Union Committee has highlighted the urgent need for clarity on free movement post-Brexit in the cultural sector. Without clarity, the business of touring could be irrevocably damaged.

“Musicians rely on being able to work and tour in Europe freely, easily and often with very little notice and it is equally important that the other people vital to touring such as roadies and technical staff are able to travel on the same basis.

“It is also vital that instruments and equipment can be moved about easily, and we very much want this to be a reciprocal arrangement. We’rsquo;ve always been – artistically and culturally – a very welcoming country. We love artists coming over here. If we become less welcoming, they simply won’t come. Our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged.”

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