The majority of the British public believe the Government is not doing enough to help musicians overcome post-Brexit barriers to touring abroad, according to a survey commissioned by umbrella music industry association UK Music.
A lack of agreement with the EU over visa issues and movement of equipment means that it has become increasingly difficult and costly for UK artistes to tour Europe.
According to the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the cost of an individual Spanish visa is £232 per person, and a carnet will be needed for unaccompanied instrument that is £325.96 per shipment. So a five-piece act wanting to play in Spain could pay fees ranging from £945 to £2789.90.
Elton John recently warned MPs that the situation could lead to the UK music industry losing “a generation of talent”.
Some 58% of respondents to the UK Music survey agreed with the statement that “the Government should be doing more to ensure musicians can work abroad post-Brexit” – against only 7% who disagreed.
Of the representative sample of 2,080 people questioned on June 9-10 by pollsters Public First, 26% said they neither agreed nor disagreed the Government should be doing more to help musicians tour the EU – and 9% were “don’t knows”.
Younger voters were the most keen to see more action from Government, with 62% of 18-24 year olds agreeing the Government is not doing enough to help musicians touring the EU. The survey found that sentiment is shared by the majority of older voters too, with 54% of those aged over 65 agreeing the Government should be doing more.
Asked if the Government should be doing more to support the UK music industry, 56% agreed against only 8% who disagreed.
The findings come as UK Music steps up the pressure on the prime minister, and culture secretary Oliver Dowden, to reveal how talks with EU countries over removing restrictions are progressing.
In March, the PM Boris Johnson pledged before the Liaison Committee of senior MPs that he was working “flat out” to address the issue and was having “plenty of conversations” with EU governments.
However, hundreds of thousands of people have backed petitions to highlight the huge challenges faced by musicians and crew trying to work in the EU post-Brexit.
A petition started by freelancer Tim Brennan as part of the Carry on Touring campaign attracted more than 286,000 signatures. It called for a Europe-wide, visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists, and led to a debate in Parliament in February where MPs joined those highlighting the problem.
In addition to regular updates on the Government’s talks with EU nations to resolve the problems facing touring musicians, UK Music is also calling for:
- European touring transition fund to mitigate the increased costs and red tape now faced by UK musicians seeking to tour the EU.
- A resolution to so-called “cabotage” rules, which impose restrictions UK hauliers over the number of stops they can make in the EU. They can only make one initial stop, with just two further stops before they must return to the UK, making touring impractical and unviable for many.
- A Government-backed Export Office for the creative industries to help support international touring plans, and promote and support the UK music industry overseas.
- Expedite negotiations with the EU and individual Member States on reducing red tape and bureaucracy holding back UK artists looking to tour Europe.
LIVE Touring Group chair Craig Stanley said, “LIVE and those working across the music sector are very disappointed at the slow progress made by the UK Government to solve the major problems faced by the touring industry post-Brexit.
“Unless quickly tackled, the UK’s pre-eminent position of suppliers of musical talent, equipment and services to our most important and closest international market will be severely diminished.
“After nearly six months, there remains scant progress on a raft of issues from work permits to the free movement of UK based trucks and buses across Europe, as well as increased bureaucracy and many additional costs.
UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said, “For months, the UK music industry has been calling for an urgent solution to the challenges facing British musicians and crews wanting to work and tour in Europe. Now it’s clear that the public is behind us and voters want to see more action too.
“The Government has just proved in its trade deal with EEA member states that the visa barriers can be removed when enough political will is applied. Now they must do the same in negotiations with EU member states and ensure British musicians can work and tour in Europe with ease.
“We also need a resolution to so-called “cabotage” rules, which impose restrictions on UK hauliers over the number of stops they can make in the EU, making touring impractical and unviable for many.
“More broadly we need a touring transition fund to mitigate the increased costs and red tape now faced by UK musicians seeking to tour the EU as well as establishing a Government-backed Export Office to help support international touring plans, and promote and back the UK music industry overseas.”