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Music Industry Unites to Save Touring in Europe, Ahead of Crucial Parliament Debate

The largest bodies representing musicians, the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians, are jointly calling for improved touring arrangements after Brexit.

Published: 08 February 2021 | 10:31 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Two sets of drum sticks lie on different instruments in a percussion section set up but with absent musicians.
The MU and the ISM have already held constructive high-level meetings with politicians and civil servants in the UK Government. Photo credit: Shutterstock

As MPs debate a petition with almost 283,000 signatures, there is a growing consensus around reducing the additional costs and bureaucracy which threaten the viability of performing in Europe.

The MU and the ISM have already held constructive high-level meetings with politicians and civil servants in the UK Government and we hope that this positivity will now be matched by a willingness by the EU to address concerns including:

  • Short term work: Each EU Member State can now choose to require both a visa and a work permit when UK citizens enter for paid work. Although a number of EU countries offer exemptions for cultural activities, many do not, making touring costly and planning a logistical nightmare. It also makes performing at short notice in some countries virtually impossible.
  • Customs: There is still uncertainty around transporting certain instruments and equipment, and whether some musicians will need to purchase an expensive customs document (called an ‘ATA Carnet’). The cost depends on the value of the goods but starts at around £360.
  • Logistics: New cabotage rules now make it much harder to organise tours from the UK with large vehicles.

The UK will meet with the EU later this week to discuss problems with application of the Brexit agreement, which presents an opportunity to urgently review touring rules.

The EU and UK must urgently agree provisions for musicians

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, said:

“The MU welcomes this collaboration with the ISM. The future of touring in the EU depends very much on achieving changes to the situation we find ourselves in arising from the conclusion of the negotiations for the TCA.

“We urgently need both the EU and the UK to agree provisions for musicians and crew that will avoid costly and complicated bureaucracy. As things stand, work visas, work permits, restrictions on haulage and uncertainty regarding carnets all present barriers for our world leading musicians.

“We were promised frictionless mobility for musicians and their crew and now we need the EU and the UK to deliver just that.”

Joining together to ensure that politicians listen

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

‘We are delighted to join with the MU to ensure that politicians listen to the concerns of our sector.

“We urge the UK Government to take the necessary steps to ensure border arrangements after Brexit do not negatively impact the Creative Industries, harming both musicians’ livelihoods and the music industry itself.

“Collaborative solutions to address issues around visas, administrative and financial challenges are desperately needed for a sector which has been so badly affected by Covid-19. Now is the time for the UK and EU to come together to fix these problems and ensure that close cultural collaboration can continue after Brexit.”

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