Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that the UK Government will look into ways of providing post-Brexit financial support for the music industry.
The government has come in for heavy criticism since the UK officially left the EU earlier this month over the Brexit deal’s lack of support for touring musicians, specifically in terms of the failure to implement visa-free travel in Europe for British musicians and their crew.
- READ MORE: Here’s an easy way to contact your MP about the ‘Musicians’ Passport’ for post-Brexit touring in just a few clicks
While Dowden previously told NME that the EU was to blame for not permitting visa-free travel for artists, the EU subsequently hit back by denying claims that they had rejected the UK’s “ambitious proposals” and saying that they had in fact offered the UK 90 days of visa-free travel – but the UK responded with their own proposal of just 30 days.
Despite widespread anger from artists and music industry bosses calling on the government to “take this seriously and fix it”, ministers rejected the idea this week – insisting that “taking back control” of the UK’s borders is their priority and that talks would only resume if Brussels “changes its mind”.
Over 100 musicians, including the likes of Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Ed Sheeran, signed an open letter yesterday (January 20) criticising the government for their failure to support touring musicians in the Brexit deal.
Dowden called a virtual meeting of representatives from across the UK music industry yesterday, with the Financial Times (subscription required) reporting that the Culture Secretary confirmed during the meeting that the government were looking into ways to support the music industry post-Brexit.
Announcing a “working group” in a bid to find solutions, Dowden reportedly told those in attendance at the meeting that he would consider the case for government support where artists faced extra costs – including possible support for the organisation of future live tours outside of Europe as part of a wider export drive.
The FT also reports that during the meeting Dowden urged musicians to use their “star power” to lobby the EU on new visa and work permit rules.
Following the meeting, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin released a statement in which he said that “post-Brexit we should be doing everything we can to help our world-leading musical talent tour abroad and fly the flag for Britain”.
“But the prospect of additional costs and red tape is already deterring many musicians from touring the continent in the future – which is a huge loss both our country and to Europe.
“As an industry, we aren’t interested in playing a blame game,” he continued. “We just want to reach a solution that enables us to continue delivering the positive benefits for the UK that we always have done. So it was welcome to hear the Government’s commitment to working to reach a solution, but we will continue to press for action that resolves the challenges our industry is facing from Brexit.”
Njoku-Goodwin added: “With the fishing industry, the Government has shown a willingness to help key national industries adjust to new export requirements. As a £5.8 billion industry that supports 200,00 jobs and generates £2.9 billion in exports, the music industry must also be supported through these challenges.”
The Who’s Roger Daltrey was criticised yesterday for adding his name to the open letter calling for visa-free travel for British musicians, given that he had previously spoken in support of Brexit and claimed that it wouldn’t have any impact on music.