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Write to your local MP: Finding a solution for musicians post-Brexit

The Brexit deal between the UK and the EU has extremely damaging consequences for the music industry. UK musicians now face a mountain of red tape and extra costs, which threatens the viability of working in the EU and individual livelihoods.

The ISM’s external affairs team is campaigning tirelessly in protect musicians’ interests in the post-Brexit world. Writing to your local MP will assist us in our lobbying work and with more people pressuring the Government on the same issue, we are more likely to achieve change.

You can read more about our advice on writing letters before you get started. Your first-hand experiences are vital for persuading politicians to support our campaigns. So make sure to use your own situation and experience to make it more personal. If you send an e-mail to your local MP, please cc us in at [email protected] and do contact us to share your feedback about our template letter, or if you would like to know more about campaigning work.

Template letter

[Address of local MP]

[date]

Dear [insert local MP name]

RE: Finding a solution for musicians post-Brexit

As one of your constituents, I am writing to ask you to contact the Government to see whether they will support UK musicians touring after Brexit.

The Brexit deal has significant consequences for the music industry. [Insert short description of the important of international touring to your income and livelihood] In fact, research by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), found that 44% of musicians were earning up to half of their income in the EU before the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are now two main issues that prevent me from touring freely in the EU. Firstly, due to the absence of reciprocal provisions in the trade deal, individual EU countries can now choose to treat UK citizens as ‘visa nationals’ when they enter that country for paid work. This means that when I embark on a European tour, I may be required to have separate visas for different countries in which I perform.

The additional costs of visas and the lengthy process which now applies is going to prevent many musicians from taking up work in the EU which is why a visa waiver agreement should be a priority for the Government. This is why over 300 creative organisations recently signed a joint letter demanding the Prime Minister delivers on his promise to fix the Brexit crisis for creative industry.

In addition to visas, I am worried about the introduction of work permits, a mechanism through which each individual member state can grant different permissions for undertaking paid work. This represents a complex hurdle that UK musicians like me will now have to overcome. Although not all countries require work permits, navigating the patchwork of rules for multi-country tours has become much harder. With applications taking up to three months, touring at short notice in some countries is now virtually impossible.

To solve these two key areas of bureaucracy and red tape facing the creative workforce, my membership body, the ISM, has identified four solutions to this crisis. As my local MP, please will you join me in asking the Government to implement these measures:

Firstly, the Government should negotiate a bespoke Visa Waiver Agreement (VWA) with the EU for our sector. The ISM has taken legal advice from a leading QC who has
advised that a VWA would be legally binding without requiring a renegotiation of the Brexit deal.

We are also calling for bilateral agreements with key individual EU Member States that do not currently offer cultural exemptions for work permits, or which are the most important financially for creative workers.

We appreciate that the above will take some time so we ask for an emergency funding package to be put in place to support creative professionals given the level of additional costs they now face as a result of undertaking work in Europe.

Lastly, we ask that the government urgently take steps to reduce the adverse impact of the new road haulage and cross-trade rules that has made it impossible for UK established touring companies to facilitate pan-European tours. The touring sector is already leaving the UK and re-establishing itself in EU member states and this drain will continue unless a
suitable solution is found by the UK and EU.

I hope you will seriously consider my request to untangle the patchwork of rules which now apply, and support musicians like myself and others across [insert constituency] to continue working in the EU. Ultimately, the Government must urgently secure international performance and uphold Britain’s global reputation for cultural innovation.

Yours sincerely,