News: ISM calls for urgent government statement after report that UK Government rejected EU offer to exempt touring musicians from work permits

The ISM has called for an urgent statement in the House of Commons after the Independent reported that the Government rejected a proposal from the EU to exempt UK touring musicians and other performers from bureaucratic work permits for 90 days.

The ISM has stated that the reports were ‘shocking’ and if true, resembled a ‘serious breach of trust’. From 01 January 2021, UK musicians now face a mountain of red tape and extra costs, which threaten the viability of working in the EU. Not only does this harm the value of the music industry (which generates £5.8bn a year to the UK economy), but also individual livelihoods at a time when large parts of the music workforce have had no source of income since March 2020 due the pandemic.

Responding to the latest report, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

‘The ISM and the rest of the music sector are appalled by shocking reports that the UK Government rejected an offer from the EU to waive bureaucratic work permits for British touring musicians, in direct contrast to statements made by Ministers in Parliament last week.

‘If these reports are true then we are looking at a serious breach of trust after the Government provided multiple assurances throughout 2020 that they understood the importance of frictionless travel for UK musicians and would be negotiating an ambitious agreement to achieve this objective.

‘We join the call with leading UK businesses that trade negotiations with Brussels should restart to address the serious regulatory challenges facing many industries, and a better deal for UK musicians should be included in those talks. We need complete transparency on what was discussed during the negotiations and an urgent statement in the House of Commons outlining what steps the Government are taking to protect our world leading performing arts sector.

Notes for Editors:

  • Full story of the latest developments was published in The Independent on Saturday 9 January 2021.
  • The Guardian reports that leading business groups have urged Ministers to restart trade negotiations with Brussels immediately to sort out the “baffling” array of post-Brexit rules and regulations that now threaten much of the UK’s export trade to the EU.
  • International touring represents an essential part of many musicians’ livelihoods, with 44% of musicians earning up to half of their income in the EU before the COVID-19 pandemic. More statistics can be found in the ISM’s 5th Brexit report, Will Music Survive Brexit? (May 2020)
  • From 01 January 2021 UK musicians now face a mountain of red tape and extra costs, which threaten the future viability of working in the EU. The ISM has prepared an overview of how the Brexit deal impacts musicians as well as the only comprehensive document providing an overview of the different requirements for short-stay work permits of each country in the EU/EEA area.
  • Throughout 2020 the government provided multiple assurances to Parliament and the music sector that they (1) understood the need for frictionless travel between the UK and the EU for short-term creative work and (2) would be negotiating an ambitious agreement on temporary entry and stay (Mode IV) to achieve this objective. These assurances were provided on record on 3 June,22 June, 10 September, 21 October, 16 November and 22 December
  • At no point was there any indication that this might not be possible until the very last moment on 30 December 2020 and then again on 08 January 2021 when the Government claimed during two key debates in Parliament that this was rejected by the EU.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally-recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession. We support over 10,500 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.

For more information, please contact [email protected]