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Petition for UK Visa-free touring surpasses 150,000 signatures

The chances of UK musicians being able to tour Europe have been dealt a seismic blow following the huge new costs that have emerged following the recent Brexit deal which fail to secure visa-free travel for touring artists. However, a petition calling for the government to ensure artists visa-free travel has already gained over 155,000 signatures.

The UK secured a Brexit deal at long last on December 24th and will officially leave the European Union on January 1st, 2021. This issue comes after musicians were left off the list of workers exempt from entering the EU without a visa. The new deal will also make it difficult for European artists to travel to the United Kingdom. These new rules state that once free movement ends on January 1st, anyone from the EU that wants to perform in the UK must apply for an expensive visa. Additionally, musicians must provide proof of savings and a certificate of sponsorship from the event organisers.

The petition has proven the music community strength and the gritted collective determination it has to offer. “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 reads.

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.”

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, has urged the government to reconsider the “additional costs and bureaucracy could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

“There is a real risk that British musicians will not be able to bear the cost of extra bureaucracy and delays which would put some tours at risk,” Njoku-Goodwin added. “If musicians and creators from overseas face barriers and costs getting into the UK, audiences here could miss out on seeing some of their favourite acts.

“The prime minister has promised there will be no non-tariff barriers, so it is vital that government delivers on this promise and ensures there are no barriers to British musicians working and touring through Europe. We will be seeking urgent reassurances on this from government.”

Step Music Management’s Ellie Giles, who looks after artists like Warmduscher and Bill Ryder-Jones, posted a thread on Twitter that examined the new financial difficulties artists will face.

“Band releases album. Getting a nice response in Europe. You think yes, we should start building a live market there. You get offered €300 each for Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam,” she tweeted. Giles then said that the average costs of each show would be around £1,800 a day, adding: “Yes, it wasn’t viable before, it was tough but now it’s made it twice as bad.”

Artists like Tim Burgess, IDLES, Louis Tomlinson, Mogwai and Declan McKenna are among the names who have urged their fanbases to sign the petition so far. 

Check out the petition and add your name here.