Music fans in the UK can use a new tool to contact their local MP in order to ask them to add their support to the growing demand for the introduction of visa-free ‘Musicians’ Passports’ to help UK musicians and their crew tour in Europe following Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to meet with MPs to discuss the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit on touring musicians from the UK, with the arrangements of Johnson’s recent trade deal not yet securing visa-free travel for artists and their crew.
Without the implementation of these ‘Musicians’ Passports’, it is feared that huge costs to future live music tours of the continent will be incurred – which would especially prevent rising and developing UK artists from being able to afford to tour, creating a potential “glass ceiling” and threatening the stability of the UK’s £5.8 billion music industry.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden claimed to NME earlier today (January 13) that the EU was “letting down music on both sides of the Channel” regarding the recent Brexit deal and its impact on touring artists, although he did add that the worst-case scenario “doesn’t have to be final” and that a solution can be found.
In addition to a widely circulated petition which is calling for the introduction of Europe-wide visa-free work permits for touring professionals and artists – a campaign which has already attracted over 250,00 signatures – a new tool made by Best For Britain has made the process of contacting your local MP over the Brexit touring issue even simpler.
The ‘Hey MP’ tool, which can be accessed here, tells you who your local MP is through a postcode search, before offering the option of either sending the below email to your MP on your behalf or contacting them on social media.
The creative industries are reeling from the impact of COVID, and now, from the end of free movement. There are simple things the government could be doing to lessen the impact of this double whammy on Britain. That’s why, as my MP, I ask you to push for a no-cost touring artist visa-free work permit, or ‘Musicians’ Passport’, in parliament and beyond.
The current EU-UK withdrawal deal carries no stipulations to cover musicians and their crews when they’re touring in EU countries. The cost and administrative impact of varying entry requirements for personnel, equipment and vehicles in each country within the EU will be prohibitive to the majority of live musicians tours. I was disappointed to learn the government may have rejected a standard proposal to allow reciprocal exemption from visas for artists touring in the UK and Europe. This is a huge blow at a time when many are still working out how to recover from a year of lost work.
Whilst it is of some relief that the UK avoided a no deal end to the transition period, tying up touring artists with prohibitive bureaucracy is just one example of how the deal fails trade of services, which makes up around 80% of the UK economy. In 2019, the music industry contributed £5.8billion to the UK economy and was one of the fastest growing sectors. Please, read Best for Britain’s new report which outlines priority areas for levelling up this thin trade deal.
Supporting cultural exports should be at the front and centre of building Britain back better than ever. That means boosting opportunities for artists at home and abroad.
Prominent voices in the UK music industry have also expressed concern this week about the impact of the Brexit deal on musicians who might not be able to tour Europe, with fears that it could potentially prevent them from acquiring a visa to play in the US.