Food for Thought! “UK Government Committed to Saving Touring in Europe”

Courtesy of the Musician’s Union

The music industry welcomes UK Government’s firm commitment to save touring in Europe following Commons evidence session.”
The largest bodies representing musicians – the Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Musicians’ Union – have welcomed the
UK Government’s firm commitment to solve the critical
issues facing touring post-Brexit.

MPs from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committees heard evidence from industry leaders, including the Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), Deborah Annetts. The ISM warned that touring artists faced an “extraordinary crisis” due to costly new barriers to performing in the European Union which include visas and work permits. The ISM called on the UK Government to:
(1) negotiate a bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU
for the creative sector and
(2) enter bilateral discussions with key EU Member States to sort
out work permit rules.

The ISM and the MU have welcomed the firm commitment of the Minister for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage, to work with music organisations to find workable solutions to these critical issues including mobility. This commitment extends across the whole of Whitehall. The Government has also indicated that it is its ambition to start discussions with key EU Member states in the coming weeks to address issues regarding work permits. DCMS also confirmed that musicians travelling with portable musical instruments between the UK and the EU will not be subject to costly customs rules in the form of formal declarations or ATA Carnet. Guidance will be available as soon as possible. This important clarification has been welcomed by the music sector. The ISM and the MU have outlined their commitment to play an active and constructive role with the UK Government to resolve the problems facing touring musicians after Brexit.

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said: 
“I was delighted to speak to MPs yesterday and it was fantastic to see that the Minister and civil servants at DCMS are fully committed to fixing the problems including mobility facing touring musicians after Brexit. We now need the same willingness from the EU so that both sides can come together to find workable solutions to the mountain of costs and red tape.
“The Creative industries contributed more than £111bn to the UK economy in 2018 but we have already been badly affected by COVID-19.
The ISM is ready to expand our ongoing activities to support the
UK Government so that close cultural collaboration can
continue after Brexit.”

MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge said:
“Both the MU and the ISM have amassed a large body of evidence and information that we are happy to share with the Ministers in order to work towards finding positive solutions for the problems that our world leading musicians and their ancillary workers currently face as a result of the breakdown in negotiations for our sector.
Let’s move forward together with the various Government departments in a spirit of cooperation to systematically remove the barriers that we have identified.”

Notes for Editors
The ISM and the MU have already held constructive high-level meetings with politicians and civil servants. Together, we are calling on the UK Government to:
Negotiate a bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU that is separate to the trade deal exempting touring performers, creative teams and crews from needing to obtain a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day
period when seeking paid work.
Enter bilateral discussions with individual EU Member States that do not currently offer cultural exemptions for work permits, such as Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal.
Create a properly resourced and dedicated UK Music Export Office to help new and established artists and their businesses to navigate the
new regulatory environment.
Publish guidance to help the performing arts sector navigate the different visa and work permit requirements for each EU Member State as a matter of urgency.
Provide an emergency funding package for the performing arts sector to mitigate against the additional costs and loss of work due to the lack of mobility provisions in the trade deal.
Explore with the EU cultural exemptions for new Carnets and
Cabotage rules.

Background information
The Creative Industries contributed more than £111bn to the UK economy in 2018. (UK Gov)
Music contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019 and employment in the industry hit an all-time high of 197,168 in 2019.
(UK Music)
International touring represents an essential part of many musicians’ livelihoods. ISM research shows that:
44% of musicians earn up to half of their earnings in the EU/EEA.
(54% in 2016)
43% travelled to the EU more than five times a year. (39% in 2018)
32% spend more than 30 days in the EU for work. (41% in 2018)
76% of UK musicians fear it’s likely Brexit will stop them performing
in Europe. (Encore)
Arts, entertainment & recreation are the sectors worst affected by coronavirus. (ONS)
79% of musicians earn less than £30,000. (ISM)
About the Musicians’ Union 
The Musicians’ Union (MU) represents over 30,000 musicians working in all sectors and genres of music. As well as negotiating on behalf of its members with all the major employers in the industry, the MU offers a range of services tailored for the self-employed by providing assistance for professional and student musicians of all ages.

MU website  
The Union was founded in May 1893 in Manchester by a musician,
JB Williams, who became the Union’s first General Secretary.
Further details about the history of the Union can be found at its dedicated archive website.   
For more information, please 
email Keith Ames at the MU.

    About the ISM
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK’s professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, it has been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession.  
It supports over 10,000 music professionals across the UK and Ireland with unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services.
Members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. It campaigns tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession
as a whole.
It is a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no
political affiliation. This permits freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.  
For more information, email Bruce Rothberg at the ISM.
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