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We Demand Support from the PM for British Musicians Planning to Tour the EU

Our General Secretary, Horace Trubridge, has today written to the Prime Minister highlighting the barriers facing British musicians seeking to tour the EU in the post-lockdown era.

Published: 15 January 2021 | 2:05 PM Updated: 16 June 2021 | 3:00 PM
Golden euphonium lies on a brown wooden stage in the light of a spotlight
There is an urgent need for a reciprocal work-permit-free deal for touring musicians and performers, and our members were very disappointed not to see this in the Brexit deal.

The letter highlights the bureaucracy and costs that will be presented to both homegrown and European artists of all genres and status, should a permit-free touring facility not be available in the months and years to come.

The contents of the letter are as follows:

Dear Mr Johnson

The MU represents 32,000 professional musicians working across all sectors of the UK music industry, most of whom occasionally or regularly perform in Europe. Our music industry is worth £5.8bn to the UK economy, and touring abroad is a vital part of the sustainability of the industry.

We were delighted to hear your answer to Kevin Brennan’s question about touring musicians during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. As Kevin set out, there is an urgent need for a reciprocal work-permit-free deal for touring musicians and performers, and our members were very disappointed not to see this in the Brexit deal.

It is overwhelmingly in Britain’s economic and cultural interest to negotiate this with the EU as soon as possible so that musicians are able to go back to work as soon as Coronavirus restrictions ease. Our industry has been incredibly badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis and if our members are also restricted by additional costs and red tape on touring once things start to go back to normal, we will see a real downturn in what is a unique British success story: music. We therefore look forward to the outcome of the meeting that you agreed to arranging.

Ever since the result of the referendum in 2016, the MU has campaigned and lobbied for a Musicians’ Passport that would allow our members and their support crew to make a successful living across Europe. We now have more than 109,000 signatures on this petition. As things stand, musicians now need to obtain separate work permits for EU member states and deal with the cost and admin of carnets for instruments and equipment. For musicians, who visit several EU countries during a tour and often take up work offers at very short notice, this will severely impede their business.

Additionally, we very much want EU musicians and crew to be able to work and perform in the UK and in fact our festivals, music venues and orchestras rely on this being the case. A reciprocal agreement should therefore be in the interests of the UK and EU and would benefit the economy as well as facilitating crucial cultural exchange.

Yours sincerely

Horace Trubridge

MU General Secretary

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