Petition to secure visa-free touring for bands following Brexit deal reaches 100,000 signatures

The government's EU trade deal will have major implications for musicians

A petition calling for the government to secure visa-free travel for artists and other creatives in the EU following the end of the Brexit transition period has reached over 100,000 signatures.

The UK will officially fully leave the European Union on January 1, 2021, with the government having finalised a deal on December 24.

The petition has been signed more than 60,000 times in seven hours, taking it past the threshold that means it will be considered for debate in Parliament. You can add your signature to the petition here. 

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The EU trade agreement allows workers in several industries to enter the EU without a visa, but does not include musicians in the clause. To tour Europe, bands and artists may need secure visas for each country they are scheduled to perform in. If that is the case, touring on the continent will become far more costly and harder to afford for many artists and crew members – just as the industry has long feared and warned about.

“We would like the UK Govt to negotiate a free cultural work permit that gives us visa free travel throughout the 27 EU states for music touring professionals, bands, musicians, artists, TV and sports celebrities that tour the EU to perform shows and events & Carnet exception [allowing the temporary import or export of goods without having to pay duty or VAT] for touring equipment,” the petition read.

The petition’s creator Tim Brennan added: “As a freelancer I and many like me travel through the EU countless times a year on different tours and events, this will become impossible due to cost and time if we do not have visa free travel.”

Many fans and artists have already shared the petition on social media, urging their followers to add their names to the list. “So many MPs namedrop bands and artists in order for them to seem relevant/ cool. We now need them to help us,” tweeted Tim Burgess.

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“The UK music industry contributed £5.8billion to our economy in 2019 – for that to continue, we need to be able to tour Europe. Please sign.”

Earlier this year, a number of artists and other industry insiders told NME of the widespread concern that new rules, tariffs and restrictions could further jeopardise the £5.2billion music industry when it is safe for live shows to return – and echoed earlier calls for a special Musicians’ Passport for touring artists and crew.

Responding to the industry’s concerns at the time, a government spokesperson told NME: “We are working closely with the arts and culture sector to prepare for the end of the transition period and recognise the importance of touring for UK musicians.

“We are seeking a reciprocal agreement with the EU to allow UK citizens to undertake some business activities in the bloc without a work permit, on a short-term basis.”

Last week (December 25), UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed the government’s EU trade deal, but said it still left “many questions” unanswered for the music industry. At that time, the full extent of the deal and its implications for musicians had not been made clear.

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