Many of the UK’s most successful artists, including Sir Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Radiohead (pictured), Queen and Brian Eno, have signed a letter to the Government accusing it of “shamefully failing” the country’s performers with its Brexit deal.
They are joined by leading figures in the live entertainment industry including Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis.
The letter, published in The Times today, 20 January, says many artists are struggling due to the concerts ban and that the lack of a special arrangement with the EU enabling them to tour without visas on the continent “will tip many performers over the edge”.
As previously reported, the prime minister has agreed to meet with MPs to discuss a revised reciprocal agreement with the EU following calls from the music and events industry for Government to negotiate improved post-Brexit regulations for touring musicians and crew on the continent.
The letter said, “The reality is that British musicians, dancers, actors and their support staff have been shamefully failed by their government.”
“The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits for many countries they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment.”
The issue has generated a war of words between the EU, UK Government and the live music industry in recent days, with the EU stating it had made an offer that would have enabled musicians to tour the region without visas for 90 days but it was rejected by Westminster.
The UK Government said the offer did not include support staff and the letter’s signatories should be asking the EU why they “rejected the sensible UK proposal”.
Under the current agreement, artists and crew will require different visas for individual countries and £350 permits for individual instruments and equipment.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden is due to meet live music industry representatives on Wednesday to discuss the issues.
In response to the letter the Government issued a statement that said, “We absolutely agree that musicians should be able to work across Europe.
“The UK Government put forward a proposal, based on feedback from the music sector, that would have allowed musicians to tour but the EU repeatedly rejected this.
“The EU’s offer in the negotiations would not have worked for touring musicians: it did not deal with work permits at all, and would not have allowed support staff to tour with artists. The signatories of this letter should be asking the EU why they rejected the sensible UK proposal.”
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