Brexit: British musicians worried about the future of European tours

·3-min read
Tim Burgess of The Charlatans is one of the signatories of an online petition calling for a visa-free regime for musicians and other cultural professionals living in the UK.

It took four and a half years for the United Kingdom and the European Union to reach an agreement on Brexit. Questions still remain, particularly about the freedom of movement of British artists. Many fear long and expensive administrative formalities in order to perform in Europe.

In the future, a British musician wanting to perform in several EU countries may be required to obtain visas for each. Administrative procedures that would certainly push British artists to cut down on their tours. Music manager Ellie Giles published a simulation of the prohibitive costs that would be incurred by a tour of three European dates for six musicians living in the UK on her Twitter feed. Her conclusion: "Yes, it wasn't viable before, it was tough but now it's made it TWICE as bad."

This concern is shared by many organizations serving professionals in the music industry, such as The Musicians' Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians. "It is hugely disappointing to see that musicians and other creatives will not be covered by visa-free short-term business trip provisions," said Deborah Annetts, ISM Executive Director, in a statement. "After everything that the sector has been through over the past 10 months, how has this happened? It is high time that the value of music to our lives and our economy is recognised fully."

More than 175,000 signatures online

An online petition was recently launched to challenge the British government on the fate of musicians and other cultural professionals in the face of Brexit. The document, which has already gathered more than 175,000 signatures, also calls for "professionals, bands, musicians, artists, TV and sports celebrities" to be exempted from visa requirements to work in Europe. “As a freelancer I and many like me travel through the EU countless times a year on different tours and events, this will become impossible due to cost and time if we do not have visa free travel," said Tim Brennan, the creator of the petition .

The Charlatans' lead singer Tim Burgess also showed his support for the petition on social networks. "So many MPs namedrop bands and artists in order for them to seem relevant/ cool. We now need them to help us," he said.

Before the UK and the EU reached an agreement on Brexit, Nigel Adams, then Minister for Culture, said it was "absolutely essential" to respect the freedom of movement of artists. This issue is all the more crucial as the UK music industry has been very heavily affected by the pandemic. A report by U.K. Music estimates that most musicians have lost 65% of their income since the start of the health crisis. This figure rises to 80% for those who are financially dependent on the live music industry.