Government urged to appoint “touring tsar” to fix touring issues caused by Brexit

"There needs to be someone at the heart of government who's in charge of sorting all these things out"

A cross-party group of MPs and members of the House Of Lords have shared a new report on touring post-Brexit that urges the government to appoint a “touring tsar” to address various issues.

The Let The Music Move report was created by more than 100 government officials and warns that UK music workers are “facing more costs, more complications and getting fewer opportunities” since the UK left the EU at the end of January 2020.

The report also calls for the appointment of a “touring tsar to steer the government’s response to the crisis” alongside “the creation of a temporary support fund to help the industry deal with increased costs (and) an expansion of the number of border points where goods passports and music instrument certificates can be checked”.

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The Let The Music Move roadmap urges the government to work with the EU to “create a cultural touring agreement that would exempt musicians and their crew from red tape”.

Speaking to the BBC, Kevin Brennan (chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music) said that musicians hadn’t been a “big enough priority” for the government.

“Although it’s true that [touring] has become a little bit easier in some countries than it was immediately after Brexit, it’s still an extremely complicated and patchy picture,” he explained.

“Musicians have faced this cacophony of bureaucracy, of different bits of government, trying to sort out different problems that have arisen from us leaving the European Union without a comprehensive settlement for touring musicians and other artists. So our report says there needs to be someone at the heart of government, who’s in charge of sorting all these things out.”

In response, a government spokesperson shared a statement that read: “Following our engagement, 24 EU member states including the biggest touring markets such as Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands have confirmed they offer visa and work permit-free routes for UK performers and other creative professionals.

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“We continue to engage with the few remaining countries which do not offer visa or work permit-free routes.”

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CREDIT: Getty Images

Speaking to NME one year on from the music industry essentially being handed a “No Deal Brexit” when the UK government failed to negotiate visa-free travel and Europe-wide work permits for musicians and crew, White Lies’ Jack Lawrence-Brown called the situation “incredibly frustrating”.

In April, the band were forced to cancel the opening night of their 2022 European tour in Paris due to “Brexit legislation” seeing their equipment held up for two days.

“When you have to pull a show for something as irritating as your truck not being able to get to where it needs to be through no fault of your own, that’s money that we’ve lost as a band pretty directly through Brexit fuck-ups and essentially a lack of government control over what’s happening in Dover,” he told NME.

Touring aside, UK independent artists and labels are also experiencing the devastatingly “outrageous” impact and “spiralling costs” of sending music products and merchandise to Europe in the wake of Brexit – leading to more huge losses of income.

Meanwhile, the charity Help Musicians are helping those artists whose touring plans and being affected by “the excessive red tape of the Brexit deal”.

You can find out more about their work and funding to help artists affected by Brexit here.

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