Government proposals on haulage risks bringing touring for small… Jump to main content

Government proposals on haulage risks bringing touring for small bands to a halt warns ISM and the MU

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musicians’ Union (MU) have today warned that Government proposals on haulage risks bringing cost effective, accessible touring for small bands to a ‘full stop’.

The organisations have developed a joint response to a Department for Transport (DfT) Call for Evidence on ‘Support for UK specialist events hauliers operating in the EU under the Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (TCA)’. The response has been signed by 14 music organisations including UK Music, Music Venue Trust and Carry on Touring.

Concerns focus on ‘splitter vans’, which are a low-cost and accessible way for small and medium scale and emerging artists to tour. ‘Splitter vans’ allow both people and instruments/equipment to be transported in the same van and are an essential vehicle for many touring artists, but their use in the future has now been put into jeopardy due to Brexit.

While the call for evidence has been welcomed, the response from industry warns that the questionnaire and solutions proposed are insufficient for the entire sector and will have a serious impact on the music and creative industries if implemented.

The proposals in the TCA state that the use of a splitter van, ‘carrying both passengers and goods, would not be permitted’, because the transport of goods and the transport of people falls between two posts. Without a solution, artists will be caught in the crossfire and see their ability to tour cost effectively ended.

The industry leaders make three main calls in the response:

  • For DfT to put in place a legal framework allowing vehicles to carry both passengers and goods for commercial use within the EU
  • Provide a total exemption from cabotage and cross trade rules for vehicles that carry both passengers and equipment for the purpose of cultural performances, rehearsals and recordings
  • The issues relating to splitter vans be put onto the agenda of the next meeting between Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Maroš Šefčovič and the next Partnership Council meeting.

Responding to the Government's proposals,

Deborah Annetts, ISM Chief Executive, said:

‘These proposals will have a hurtful impact on the ability of small and medium scale touring artists as well as emerging musicians to tour in Europe. As representatives of musicians, we have come together to call on the Government to back proposals that will work for the creative industries. Those solutions cannot come soon enough so our artists and bands can begin to plan with confidence. As COVID-19 restriction ease, touring musicians should be looking forward to getting back out on the road, unless the Government comes up with answers, that ambition will prove impossible for many. ‘

Dave Webster, MU National Organiser for Live Performance, said:

‘The Department of Transport call for evidence that closes today places two options in front of the haulage industry as a potential solution to large scale touring. However, we believe these options will not cater for the needs of medium and small scale touring artists and bands. We have garnered support from across the music industry and the haulage industry for the arguments we set out in our response. We hope that Government will be listening and can respond with a workable and sustainable solution for all touring musicians’