Both Sides Must Endeavour To Support Multi-Billion Pound Industry
A leading media and entertainment lawyer has called on the UK Government and EU leaders to redouble their efforts to find solutions to the ongoing issues concerning visas for touring musicians.
Laura Harper, a partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, says both sides need to focus on making it work - otherwise the sector’s £5.8bn contribution to the economy may start to shrink.
The ongoing dispute centres on claims that when negotiating the Brexit trade deal, the UK government rejected an offer of visa-free touring in EU countries for UK musicians.
It was reported that proposals to exempt performers from the cost and bureaucracy for 90 days was turned down by the UK government, because it is denying that right to acts from the EU.
Both sides have been defending their position since the news emerged but earlier this week Culture minister Caroline Dinenage confirmed the government had turned down an EU offer that would have enabled frictionless touring. She claimed it would “not have been compatible with the government's manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders".
As things stand, without an EU agreement on touring as part of a trade deal, it is now up to each member state to decide on whether to demand visas for artists up to 90 days.
The government, which has said they remain open to negotiation on the issue, is now under pressure from 110 high profile musicians who have written an open letter to the government demanding a rethink.
Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, organised the letter which has been signed by stars including Elton John, Sting and Radiohead.
She said: "World-renowned performers, emerging artists from every genre and the most respected figures from leading organisations within our sector are now sending a clear message.
"It is essential for the government to negotiate a new reciprocal agreement that allows performers to tour in Europe for up to 90 days, without the need for a work permit."
Expert Opinion“British musicians may be forced to pay for country-specific visas and although this is very unsatisfactory, each side needs to move forward and look for a resolution.
“Although musicians are unable to tour at the moment due to Covid 19 restrictions, many will be looking to get new tours, and particularly those that were cancelled during 2020, off the ground as soon as possible.
“The Government and EU leaders must find a solution to the increased cost and procedural challenges and explain the practicalities of touring now.”
Laura Harper - Partner
Irwin Mitchell’s Media & Entertainment group announced last year that it had been appointed to advise Inner City Music on a new UK wide venture called ‘Passport: Back to Our Roots’ which will see major music acts, including Elbow, Everything Everything, Public Service Broadcasting and The Slow Readers Club, perform one-off intimate gigs designed to secure the survival of small grassroots venues across the UK.