Government ‘shamefully failing’ performers over Brexit

Leading musicians from rock, pop and classical genres have accused the government of making Europe a no-go zone for performers following its negotiating failure over cultural exchange options.

“British musicians, dancers, actors and their support staff have been shamefully failed by their government” they say in a letter published in The Times today. “The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be.”

Signed by more than 150 leading figures, including Elton John, Judith Weir, the Master of the Queen’s Music, Nicola Benedetti, Ed Sheeran, Simon Rattle and Liam Gallagher, the letter outlines how arrangements since January 1 would now need costly work permits and mountains of paperwork for equipment, extra costs that will make many tours unviable. “We urge the government to do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment” the letter says.

British and EU negotiators have blamed each other for failing to agree reciprocal access for performers. This week Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said Britain had rejected an offer of exemptions for artists, but the government said the EU proposal would not have allowed support staff to tour.

Meanwhile, Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, has written directly to the prime minister to ask for his support for artists touring in Europe.

“As you know, the UK’s creative industries were growing at four times the rate and creating three times more jobs than the economy as a whole. With a strong working relationship with government and the right support in place, the sector can deliver this growth again to all parts of the UK” she writes.

“The sector’s ability to visit, tour, exhibit, perform and deliver services on a temporary basis around the world has been a major contributor to the significant £46bn of exports in goods and services that the UK’s creative industries deliver. However, the outcome of the UK’s trade deal with the European Union on Short Term Business Visitors means that delivering these services, when possible once again, will now come at a higher cost in both time and money, impacting those on low incomes and with small margins the most.”


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