The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Musicians Write To The UK Government About EU Touring
Christian Eede , January 20th, 2021 16:24

Artists have been "shamefully failed" by the UK Government, says an open letter signed by Radiohead, Liam Gallagher and more

Some of the UK's best-known musicians and industry figures have written to the government demanding action to ensure that visa-free touring can continue in the European Union.

Radiohead, Liam Gallagher, Sir Elton John, Brian Eno, and Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis are among 110 signatories of an open letter that says artists and their crew have been "shamefully failed" by the government over post-Brexit travel rules for UK musicians, which are now in place following the UK's departure from the EU.

The government said the signatories should be asking the EU's negotiators why they "rejected the sensible UK proposal," but culture minister Caroline Dinenage admitted earlier this week that the UK Government had turned down a deal with the EU on the matter during Brexit negotiations.

Dinenage claimed the EU's "very broad" offer "would not have been compatible with the government's manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders," but added "the door is open" if the EU was willing to consider the UK's proposals.

Under current rules, musicians and their crew looking to play shows in EU states must now check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each member state in which they intend to tour. (This may require multiple visas or work permits, which will likely incur a fee.) Artists and crew from EU states must also obtain visas for a fee in order to play shows in the UK.

Today's open letter, which was published in The Times, was organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Liberal Democrats.

It 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."

Warning that it will simply put international touring out of reach of many smaller musicians, the letter called "on the government to urgently do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment.

"For the sake of British fans wanting to see European performers in the UK and British venues wishing to host them, the deal should be reciprocal."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is meeting with music industry representatives today (January 20) to address their concerns.

The UK Government recently responded to a petition calling for the matter to be resolved, saying: "The UK Government will make the case for arrangements that make touring easier in the EU and also seek to signpost to guidance which will help UK business travellers navigate individual Member States' immigration systems."