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European Social Partners in the Live Performance Sector Celebrate 20 Years of European Social Dialogue

A guest blog by National Organiser Live Performance Dave Webster, originally given as a speech on behalf of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM).

Photograph of two musicians playing live on a stage
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Firstly, I would like to thank my colleague Thomas Dayan for the opportunity to speak to you today on behalf of the International Federation of Musicians.

Without social dialogue on the issues affecting our members we would be in a worse place than we are now. Working together to overcome things is a solution in itself.

Whilst we continue to fight to find a longer lasting remedy, I sincerely hope that following Brexit – deal or no deal – we can continue to work behind the scenes to support the work of our partners in the EU.

Success in the development of the noise directive

The best example I could offer about fruitful co-operation between EAEA and PEARLE* is in relation to the noise directive, adopted in 2003. Once adopted, the Commission engaged in the production of a guide to assist member states in the national transposition of the directive.

Thanks to the Social Dialogue Committee, EAEA, through FIM and PEARLE* managed to get actively involved by the Commission to work on chapter eight of this guide about music and leisure sectors.

The sector worked tirelessly to contribute to the development of national guides offering practical solutions to help the musicians and organisations meet the challenges of enforcement in a sector where noise management is both crucial and complex.

The BMU and ABO were at the forefront of developing the online resource ‘Sound Advice’ for the entertainment sector.

Touring issues for live musicians

To list all the areas we have worked closely on over the last twenty years would take too long, and I wasn’t around for twelve of them. However, I will limit the rest of this to mobility issues that are equally important for both sides of the industry.

Instruments on Planes continues to slip through our fingers. The damage to instruments by airlines seems to escalate and their Montreal Convention sanctioned insurance policies are woefully inadequate – this needs to change.

The traffic light system put together by FIM is a valuable resource for us all, and past and future co-operation with PEARLE* is essential to make a difference. It remains a frustration that the gains we achieved in 2014 continue to be held up.

Following the joint statement in 2013 calling for an end to Double Taxation, thanks to the input and work from Dick Molenaar, we have a better understanding of the issue.

Continued work pressing for changes to Article 17 of the OECD Model Tax Convention – having a de minimis earnings threshold as part of the argument to allow musicians on lower incomes not to be unduly penalised.

US visas continue to be a costly and unreliable landscape. We continue to address issues as they arise and press for ease of movement for musicians to work, and for countries to engage in cultural exchange and grow their creative industry economies.

Finally CITES. The work we did together to produce ‘Crossing Borders’ was well received, not only by musicians and employers, but also the authorities.

Here again, active co-operation within the sector both at European and North-American levels was key to make CITES Member States understand that seizing or destroying musical instruments is like using a sledgehammer (literally) to crack a nut when it comes to combatting wildlife trafficking.

Looking to the future

I sincerely hope we can continue to work together to assist musicians travelling with their instruments.

There are many barriers in the way, those barriers seem to be getting bigger. We need to unlock those barriers and in working collectively we stand a better chance of doing that rather than fighting on our own.

With the UK careering headlong off the EU cliff, we will need our social partners support to keep the MU, Equity, BECTU and the ABO updated on your country’s entry requirements for musicians and we urge you on our behalf to press for freedom of movement for artists as indicated in the joint statement released today.

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Published: 21/10/2019

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