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Harriet Harman Proposes Plan For Post-Brexit EU Touring
Christian Eede , March 16th, 2021 17:56

The Labour MP's 10-point plan has the backing of UK Music and the Musicians' Union

Labour MP Harriet Harman has put forward new proposals to make touring around the EU easier for musicians and crew post-Brexit.

In January, it emerged that the UK Government and the European Union had not come to an agreement to allow artists to travel for shows without requiring a visa, which drew heavy criticism from musicians and music industry figures and led to a protracted blame game between the Government and the EU. As it stands, UK artists and crew are subject to various costs and visas requirements between different EU nations, which it's been widely argued will make touring more difficult and, for some, altogether impossible when music venues are able to reopen.

As The Guardian reports, Harman's 10-point plan to combat the issue has the support of organisations such as the Musicians', the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and UK Music. It will allow British musicians to tour Europe without visas, and artists from EU states to tour the UK without such requirements too.

Harman told The Guardian that there is "no time to waste" on tackling the issue, adding that if the government doesn't act now, "nothing is going to happen on this except that the shutters will come down."

Accusing the Government of failing to grasp the value of music and touring to the UK's economy, Harman said that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) must set about negotiating new agreements with EU countries, prioritising important touring nations such as Spain, Italy and Portugal, which currently do not offer cultural exemptions for work permits.

She accused the Government of an "assumption that somehow it's going to be perfectly all right because [musicians] always have been, and they're so successful so they'll be fine. And also partly: 'Oh well, it's just a few middle-class people'. Which is completely wrong."

Harman's plan would see the introduction of a British Music Export office to help support international touring artists, while she's also pushing for the appointment of a minister to assist musicians in visa applications. Most European nations have a designated music export office, but the UK does not.

While highlighting the Government's ignorance of music tourism's value to the economy, the Labour MP also spoke to The Guardian about its cultural benefits, saying "music thrives when there's a cultural interchange and artists are able to collaborate."

Concluding her views, Harman said that the music industry is not seeking a blame game, but rather wants to see the matter resolved as soon as possible.

"I don't think the government should be defensive, even if the truth is that they have cocked it up," she said. "The sector just wants to sort it out and to help."

Read tQ's January piece on why artist visas are more than a Brexit issue here.