Amid the ongoing wrangles about how and when live music can return safely in various European countries, it’s important to also remember the separate (but just as debilitating) wrangles around how British musicians can tour Europe, and European musicians the UK, in the aftermath of the latter’s exit from the European Union.
The famously “oven-ready” Brexit deal has proved to be distinctly undercooked when it comes to touring, with politicians seemingly struggling to get their heads around music as an exports issue rather than an immigration issue. But European music body Impala is stepping up its pressure on those politicians to find a solution.
It has worked with fellow body IAO to come up with an idea for them to consider called the ‘Gecat Pass’, standing for Geographical European Cultural Area Touring. “An approach that involves creating a new cultural area with a single touring permit, instead of treating Europe as a number of distinct blocs and countries,” as they explained this morning. The ‘G’ word is important here: it would be a geographic area, rather than a political or economic one.
The plan involves a single travel permit for artists and their teams; a single customs licence for their equipment; enables multiple stops before they have to return home; and would see them charged VAT at their home country rate for merchandise sold at their concerts.
“The idea is to guarantee a level-playing field and make sure that all artists have access to the same touring opportunities, regardless of where they are based or their level of development,” said Impala executive chair Helen Smith. “It’s not only about the transit of people and goods, it’s also about the free flow of ideas and artistic expressions, essential for peace and co-operation in the whole region,” added IAO chair Nacho Garcîa Vega.
It’s constructive thinking, but the question now is what the policymakers and legislators across the region make of it.