Priti Patel has been warned that her immigration crackdown will “cut the legs off” the UK music industry.
In a new attack on the government, the Incorporated Society of Musicians says the Home Office risks threatening the creative arts, which is worth £111bn a year to the economy, and has refused to listen to pleas for help.
As The Independent reports, the society warns that new immigration measures could force artists to cancel their tours and threaten the future of small independent venues.
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They claim that “enormous” numbers of bands from EU countries will be put off by the huge costs and the daunting process of applying to perform, striking a massive blow to the venues that host them.
“This is taking a shotgun and shooting ourselves in the foot,” the Society’s furious chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said.
In a post-Brexit shake up of the current rules, EU and non-EU based creatives who wish to travel to the UK must prove they have nearly £1000 in savings in their account some 90 days before applying for the visa. The huge sum is considered to be proof that they can support themselves, unless they are already “fully approved (‘A-rated’)”.
Ms Annetts said: “The Home Office has failed to grasp that touring and the creative industries are not about immigration, but a global industry in which people move around all the time.
“It’s been that way since The Troubadours in Chaucer’s time – you picked up your lute and off you go.
“This will cut the legs off the bottom half of the music industry. And what is going to happen to our small venues who have to go through this process to bring artists across from the EU?”
Discussing the need for £1,000 of savings, she added: “That’s fine if you’re Bruce Springsteen, but not if you’re a small rock band from Scandinavia trying to make it by playing in a few North London pubs.
The new immigration crackdown, unveiled last Wednesday (February 19), will replace free movement with a minimum salary threshold of £25,600 for foreign workers.
But it has been branded “a disaster” by social care leaders, who say it could spark a major recruitment crisis.