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Taking Action - Our Update on Brexit for Musicians

The MU has been closely involved in the compiling of two comprehensive reports outlining the difficulties musicians and the creative industries as a whole are having in the post Brexit age.

Published: 19 October 2022 | 3:22 PM Updated: 07 November 2022 | 1:17 PM
Woman with guitar in case, over her shoulder, at the railway station.
"Whether a musician, technician, creative organisation, dancer or actor, the problems facing the creative industries are the same". Image credit: Shutterstock.

Earlier in the summer of 2022, The UK Music sponsored All Party Parliamentary Group for Music, led by The Rt Hon Kevin Brennan MP, launched their report Let The Music Move. The Union provided evidence to this report which, as well as making a series of practical solutions to Government, outlines the barriers faced by musicians caused by Brexit.

What we've been doing

The week beginning 5 September 2022 saw much activity in Government, not least because of the change of Prime Minister but also around Brexit. Carry On Touring, of which the MU’s Dave Webster is on the advisory board, held a Round Table in the House of Lords where musicians, industry figures and parliamentarians witnessed testimony setting out the many problems that musicians continue to face.

Then on Thursday 8 September the Independent Commission for UK/EU Relations Co-Chaired by Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy, released their first report on the Creative Industries to a room of industry figures, Commissioners, UK Government Officials and representatives of the EU diplomatic team here in London. Whilst parliament and all select committee proceedings were suspended following the Queen's passing and for the appropriate mourning period, we then continued to work with these organisations to put pressure on the Government to act on the recommendations within these two reports.

In a statement about the report released since, the Commission have said: 

“For creatives, many of whom before 2020 relied on income from touring, exhibiting, selling merchandise or collaborating in Europe, the impact has been severe.

Without significant change to the Brexit agreements this will not change, it will get no better.

“Few in government understood the importance of touring the continent for musicians, theatre groups and orchestras. But the truth is the barriers thrown up by the TCA and the NIP, and the failure of those negotiating them to account for the creative industries’ needs, threaten an existential crisis for many working within the sector.

“The challenges facing the sector start with the need for visas and/or work permits. There is no single system to cover the EU and creatives must negotiate 27 different rules. Despite some visa/work permit free provision it’s by no means a level playing field. They are further restrained by the 90-day out of a 180-day limit on time spent in the Schengen area”.

The MU has also been closely involved and sits on the Creative Industry Advisory Board alongside the technicians’ union BECTU.

Brexit is stifling our industry

Dave Webster, MU Head of International says:

“There is no doubt that everyone is saying the same thing. Whether a musician, technician, creative organisation, dancer or actor, the problems facing the creative industries are the same.

“Brexit is stifling our industry and we need Government to come out, engage with the industry, the EU –(they are suffering too from this) and act before it’s too late”.

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Take Part in the MU’s New Survey on Touring in the EU Post Brexit

Your answers are key to helping us assess the impact leaving the EU has had on touring musicians, and if our specialist information and guidance has been useful or needs improving. Your feedback is also vital in shaping our work when liaising with government.

Published: 03 April 2024

Read more about Take Part in the MU’s New Survey on Touring in the EU Post Brexit