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Committee announces evidence session on arrangements for UK touring professionals and artists in the EU

3 February 2021

On Thursday 4 February, the Petitions Committee will host an evidence session after a petition calling on the Government to negotiate visa-free work permits for touring professionals and artists received over 282,000 signatures.

The Committee can also reveal ahead of the session that 81% of survey respondents in the industry say they are likely to stop touring Europe unless a solution is found.

The survey sent to petitioners, and those working in the arts, to discover how post-Brexit changes will impact their careers and the industry, had more than 15,000 responses.

The Petitions Committee, alongside guests from the Digital, Culture, Media Sport and the Scottish Affairs Committees will hear from artists and touring professionals about their experiences of working in Europe, and the impact they feel post-Brexit changes to work and travel rules will have on their career. During the session, the committee will hear from a range of artists and other sector professionals including:

  • Tim Brennan (Petition Creator)
  • Stuart Murdoch (Songwriter, singer and musician, Belle and Sebastian)
  • Anna Patalong (Operatic soprano)
  • Emma Pollock (Co-Founder Chemikal Underground Records and performer)
  • Rakhvinder Singh (Violinist and co-founder, Manchester Collective).
  • Ian Smith (Founder, UKEartswork)
  • Yousef (DJ and Circus Recordings record label owner)

The evidence heard during the session will inform the upcoming e-petition session on Monday 8 February, where MPs will be able to put the concerns of petitioners and the industry directly to a Government Minister. The e-petition session will take place from 16:30 on Monday, and will be able to watch live on Parliament TV.

The Committee’s survey found that:

  • Almost 100% of respondents who identified as music and/or performing arts fans said that they ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ that they are concerned about the survival of the music and performing arts industries as a whole and people’s jobs.
  • 81% of respondents said they were ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to stop touring Europe as a result of the changes
  • 79% said that they were “extremely worried” or “very worried” about the future of their job or career in light of the new rules.
  • 60% of respondents answered ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ when asked if they were considering changing their career in light of the changes
  • 50% expected they’d have to reduce the size of their touring party when touring Europe in future, resulting in job losses

The e-petition, Seek Europe-wide Visa-free work permit for Touring professionals and Artists, states: “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 for touring equipment.”

In response to the petition, the Government said: “During our negotiations, we proposed measures to allow creative professionals to travel and perform in both the UK and EU, without needing work-permits. Unfortunately, the EU rejected these proposals.”

Chair's comments

“I am delighted that we are holding this session to hear first-hand how changes to visa and customs rules as a result of Brexit will impact our music industry, which was worth up to £5.8 billion to the UK economy prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 “With 81% of those in the industry telling us they are likely to be forced to stop touring Europe as a result, the impact on the UK’s economy and global influence will be enormous if suitable arrangements for touring professionals in the arts aren’t made.

 “We are grateful to the over 15,000 people who responded to our survey, and we look forward to exploring their concerns further in our evidence session before presenting our findings to the Government at our e-petition session on Monday”.

Further Information

Image: Joshua Humpfer via Unsplash