16.06.2021: The public think Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Government are not doing enough to help musicians overcome post-Brexit barriers to touring abroad and need to do more, a major new poll reveals today.
UK Music, the collective voice of the UK music industry, commissioned the survey following a barrage of complaints from musicians and crew about the extra costs and red tape involved in touring and working across Europe since Britain left the EU at the end of January 2020.
A total of 58% of those quizzed agreed with the statement that “the Government should be doing more to ensure musicians can work abroad post-Brexit” – against only 7% who disagreed with the statement.
Of the representative sample of 2,080 people questioned on June 9-10 by pollsters Public First, 26% said they neither agreed nor disagreed the Government should be doing more to help musicians tour the EU – and 9% were “don’t knows”.
Younger voters were keenest to see more action from Government, with 62% of 18-24 year olds agreeing the Government is not doing enough to help musicians touring the EU. But the sentiment is shared by the majority of older voters too – 54% of over 65s said Government should be doing more to ensure musicians can work abroad post-Brexit.
Agreement that the Government should be doing more to ensure musicians can work abroad after Brexit was displayed across all age groups, with 62% of 18-24 year olds and 54% of those over 65 years old agreeing.
Asked if the Government should be doing more to support the UK music industry, 56% agreed against only 8% who disagreed.
Asked if the UK should be proud of its music industry and heritage, an overwhelming 83% agreed, against just 1% who disagreed.
The revelations will pile the pressure on Government ministers to step up efforts with EU nations to simplify the process and reduce the costs and red tape facing touring musicians.
The findings come as UK Music steps up the pressure on the Prime Minister and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to reveal how talks with EU countries over removing restrictions are progressing.
In March, Boris Johnson pledged before the Liaison Committee of senior MPs that he was working “flat out” to address the issue and was having “plenty of conversations” with EU governments.
However, hundreds of thousands of people have backed petitions to highlight the huge challenges faced by musicians and crew trying to work in the EU post-Brexit.
A petition started by freelancer Tim Brennan as part of the Carry on Touring campaign attracted more than 286,000 signatures. It called for a Europe-wide, visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists, and led to a debate in Parliament in February where MPs joined those highlighting the problem.
UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said:
“For months, the UK music industry has been calling for an urgent solution to the challenges facing British musicians and crews wanting to work and tour in Europe. Now it’s clear that the public is behind us and voters want to see more action too.
“The Government has just proved in its trade deal with EEA member states that the visa barriers can be removed when enough political will is applied. Now they must do the same in negotiations with EU member states and ensure British musicians can work and tour in Europe with ease.
“We also need a resolution to so-called “cabotage” rules, which impose restrictions on UK hauliers over the number of stops they can make in the EU, making touring impractical and unviable for many.
“More broadly we need a touring transition fund to mitigate the increased costs and red tape now faced by UK musicians seeking to tour the EU as well as establishing a Government-backed Export Office to help support international touring plans, and promote and back the UK music industry overseas.”
British opera singer Jennifer Johnston said:
“I am a British success story in classical music, yet I now find my career in grave danger because of the issues surrounding visas and work permits post-Brexit.
“If European work disappears there is not enough work in the UK to sustain the numbers of British opera singers that exist.
“Those of us in my position acknowledge that we are a minority, but we are a high-profile minority, a world-class and highly successful aspect of British music exports. We deserve our voices to be heard in asking the UK and EU governments to return to the negotiating table.”
Craig Stanley, Chair of the LIVE Touring Group, said:
“LIVE and those working across the music sector are very disappointed at the slow progress made by the UK Government to solve the major problems faced by the touring industry post-Brexit.
“Unless quickly tackled, the UK’s pre-eminent position of suppliers of musical talent, equipment and services to our most important and closest international market will be severely diminished.
“After nearly six months, there remains scant progress on a raft of issues from work permits to the free movement of UK based trucks and buses across Europe, as well as increased bureaucracy and many additional costs.
“The ball is very much in the UK Government’s court to engage with Europe and deliver positive results on the Prime Minister’s claim that he was working “flat out” to address the issue.”
The cost of an individual Spanish visa is £232 per person or £189 for a fixed contract work visa. *(see more examples under notes to editors).
In addition to regular updates on the Government’s talks with EU nations to resolve the problems facing touring musicians, UK Music is also calling for:
- European touring transition fund to mitigate the increased costs and red tape now faced by UK musicians seeking to tour the EU.
- A resolution to so-called “cabotage” rules, which impose restrictions UK hauliers over the number of stops they can make in the EU. They can only make one initial stop, with just two further stops before they must return to the UK, making touring impractical and unviable for many.
- A Government-backed Export Office for the creative industries to help support international touring plans, and promote and support the UK music industry overseas.
- Expedite negotiations with the EU and individual Member States on reducing red tape and bureaucracy holding back UK artists looking to tour Europe.
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