House of Lords European Affairs Committee writes to Government… Jump to main content

House of Lords European Affairs Committee writes to Government following ISM evidence session

Last month, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts was invited to give evidence to the House of Lords European Affairs Committee on the devastating impact of Brexit for UK musicians. Now, the Committee have written to the Government seeking clarification following Deborah's session.

At the evidence session, Deborah spoke to the Committee alongside Noel McClean, National Secretary of BECTU and Craig Stanley, Chair of the LIVE Touring Group.

The session covered issues including visas, cabotage, carnets and CITES; which are creating enormous barriers to touring.

Brexit has already had disastrous consequences for the music sector. Our report ‘Professionally Paralysed’ found UK musicians have lost roles, had work cancelled and been barred from auditions - either because it is now too expensive to travel to the EU, or because EU based promoters, orchestras and ensembles are reluctant to hire UK-based musicians. Some UK musicians are even having to relocate to the EU so they are better placed to find work.

Watch Deborah Annetts explain why the EU is such a crucial market for UK musicians

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement ignored the needs of touring musicians and without urgent action, Brexit threatens to destroy our sector. Travelling to the EU will mean huge costs and mountains of red tape. This will make touring impossible for many musicians – particularly those who are earlier in their careers.

Deborah set out why it is critical that the Government and EU negotiate a bespoke Visa-Waiver Agreement for the creative industries. This could allow musicians to tour in the EU without a visa for up to 90 days in a period of 180. She also highlighted the need to address haulage restrictions which, by banning the use of ‘splitter vans’ will make touring impossible for smaller bands.

Watch Deborah Annetts explain why negotiating a Visa Waiver Agreement is the solution to fix mobility for musicians

Deborah also challenged Government to support UK musicians by:

  • Making Eurostar a CITES-designated point of entry or exit, so more musicians can use this route
  • Financially compensating new musicians whose careers are now being limited by Brexit
  • Clarifying rules around ATA Carnets and the transport and sale of merchandise while touring
  • Correcting false information they have provided to musicians and ensuring all guidance they publish on touring is clear and accurate

Committee writes to the Government in response

Following the evidence session, the House of Lords European Affairs Committee, chaired by Lord Kinnoull, have written to Lord Frost, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office with responsibility for implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Act (TCA) and Co-chair of the EU-UK Partnership Council. In the letter the committee set out concerns about the impact the lack of provision in the TCA on the movement of creative professionals is having on the creative industries. A link to the full letter can be found below.

The committee ask Lord Frost a number of questions following the session where Deborah Annetts gave evidence, including on the Government’s engagement and co-ordination on touring matters, visas and work permits, transport and inbound artists from the EU.

A number of the questions relate directly to points that Deborah made during the session. In particular, the committee asks the Government if it will confirm how an EU-wide visa waiver scheme for touring creative professionals undermine the UK’s ability to take back control of its borders. An EU-wide visa waiver agreement is something the ISM and others in the industry have been calling for, and we believe it would solve one key area for touring professionals.

We welcome this intervention from the committee and hope that it will lead to action that will ease the extra cost, bureaucracy and red tape that continues to face musicians hoping to tour the EU. We look forward to the Government’s response and hope that it was provide solutions for touring artists and the creative industries.