The ISM, the UK’s professional body for musicians, has today called on the UK Government to take the necessary steps to ensure UK musicians can continue to travel easily in the EU for work after Brexit.

In the House of Commons today, an amendment seeking to allow musicians to be able to tour without visas was defeated. This is a hugely concerning given that just weeks ago assurances were given by the Government that they understood the need for frictionless travel for UK musicians post Brexit and would be negotiating reciprocal arrangements with the EU to achieve this objective.

What did the Government say?

Responding to a question in a debate in September 2020 around free movement of musicians, their equipment and support teams, the Rt Hon Baroness Barran MBE (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)) responded on behalf of the Government saying that the intention was ‘to negotiate reciprocal arrangements which will facilitate businesses, including musicians and groups of musicians, to deliver their services within the EU’. This was later reemphasised in a written answer when the Government again stated its intention to seek ‘reciprocal mobility arrangements with the EU’.

In addition to this, Lord True CBE (Minister of State for European Union Relations and Constitutional Policy at the Cabinet Office) confirmed that the Government recognised the importance of touring to the music profession, stating that the Government was ‘committed to seeking protection’for workers such as musicians. Lord True later stated on behalf of the Government that it was currently negotiating commitments with EU member states and that the Government ‘appreciated the significant contribution of the UK music industry’.

Urging the Government to make good their assurances to the music sector, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

The ISM and music sector is grateful for the support for musicians and creatives shown today in Parliament. However the music sector feels badly let down by the Government. It is crucial that the Government listens to the concerns raised by MPs and members of the House of Lords and ensures that musicians and creatives can continue to travel and work freely in the EU – as the Government assured us just weeks ago.

From 1 January, musicians will face a mountain of red tape – from CITES to carnets – which threatens the future viability of working in the EU. Very few musicians will be able to afford this extra cost which can run to thousands of pounds, harming not only the value of the music industry (which generates £5.8bn a year to the UK economy) but also individual livelihoods.

We call on the Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that musicians can continue to work in the EU without visas, making good on the many assurances just a matter of weeks ago.’