UK Music Welcomes “Common Sense” Victory After Travel Threat To String Musicians Is Lifted

UK Music has welcomed a decision to ditch a plan that would have hit the ability of string musicians to travel overseas - and threatened the bow-making industry.

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29.11.2022: UK Music has welcomed a decision to ditch a plan that would have hit the ability of string musicians to travel overseas – and threatened the bow-making industry.

UK Music worked with the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), the Musicians’ Union (MU), and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) against a plan to impose damaging CITES restrictions on pernambuco bows for musical instruments.

Pernambuco is the main material used for bows. It grows only in Brazil and has been subject to some CITES restrictions, which are designed to protect endangered species, since 2007.

As part of its attempts to control the illegal trade in wood, Brazil proposed to make the restrictions much tighter – something that would have affected all bows made from pernambuco.

However, the ISM, MU, ABO and UK Music worked closely with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Animal and Plant Health Agency to help them understand how vital pernambuco is to string musicians.

UK government officials were key in securing a change of direction from Brazil, which lifts the threat and exempts bows from new restrictions.

Brazil’s original proposal would have required almost all string players to apply for a Musical Instrument Certificate to travel internationally with their bows.

The proposal – brought at the 19th CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP19) in Panama – would also have badly hit the bow-making trade and sales of antique bows.

UK Music Deputy CEO Tom Kiehl said:

“UK Music would like to thank CoP19 and the actions taken by our government in support of this common sense outcome.

“It will balance Brazilian concerns for the protection of its national tree while avoiding new and unnecessary red tape for musicians and instrument manufacturers across the UK.

“We will continue to monitor the implementation and compliance to ensure the new policy works as intended.”

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said: 

“This is a huge relief for the entire string music world. We worked hard with our colleagues to campaign on this issue on behalf of our members, and we are delighted to have achieved this positive result.

“We thank the officials at DEFRA and APHA for listening to our concerns and speaking up on behalf of musicians and bow makers internationally. This is an example of how the industry and government can work together effectively to support musicians.”

ABO CEO Judith Webster said; 

We welcome this positive outcome from COP19. The ABO works tirelessly on behalf of our members to keep artists and orchestras moving and the decision to maintain pernambuco’s Appendix II listing will enable UK orchestras and musicians to continue to take the best of British culture across the globe, without added administrative burden.

“We are grateful for the collaboration of our partners in the UK, including the MU, ISM and UK Music, and abroad. The ABO also welcomes the constructive engagement of DEFRA and the UK CITES Scientific Authority with the sector, as we continue to work together to ensure the protection of an endangered species, whilst safeguarding musicians’ ability to tour internationally.”MU Head of International Dave Webster said: 

This is a significant victory for musicians right across the globe. My thanks go to MU members who responded to our survey.

“This outcome provides real peace of mind for our members and all musicians with Pernambuco bows.

“Thanks to the ABO, ISM and UK Music, international colleagues, and DEFRA and APHA, all of whom who fought hard to protect musicians and their instruments.”

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