Partially due to the impact of the pandemic, the UK has still not experienced the full implications of Brexit – which officially began in January. Since then, there has been deep consternation amongst touring artists both inside and outside of the UK about a perceived lack of guidance on how post-Brexit touring works. Part of the concerns are that the anticipated visas and carnets needed to take artists, equipment and merch on the road will be prohibitively expensive.
Yesterday, the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announcedthat it had “spoken to every EU Member State” and that, “19 Member States have confirmed UK musicians and performers do not need visas or work permits for short-term tours.” (That includes most of the EU states, but excludes, notably, Spain and Portugal.)
The reaction from artists on Twitter was… chilly, and the #LetTheMusicMovecampaign, launched in June to highlight the anxiety felt by UK artists around post-Brexit touring, was not impressed, calling the announcement “spin” and “nothing more than we already knew.”
A statement continued: “It remains that the UK’s music industry is in a far less advantageous position now than it was pre-January.” It called the statement “an admission of failure” – the most pressing of which seems to be that the statement did not “provide certainty around touring in almost a third of EU countries.”
#LetTheMusicMove, which is backed by more than 200 prominent artists from Radiohead to Annie Lennox, also called on the government for deeper clarity, asking it to publish full details on a country-by-country basis, outlining the exact requirements for touring performers and crew across all 27 member states.
There still seems to be plenty of confusion around the need for travel carnets and their cost – not to mention the impact for non-UK artists aiming to tour the UK. As the booking of tours gingerly begins again, many in the industry will be hoping their calls for clarity are heeded.
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