There has been the petition signed by 250 000 people, a deluge of anger online but the problem remains unresolved and one of the UK’s biggest industries and a prime driver in creating a positive international image for the country has been left in the lurch.
The EU are not having any of the UK government blame game and now politicians from Labour and the Liberal Democrats are slamming the government’s handling on the Brexit touring negotiations with the EU.
The post-Brexit trade deal, which was presented as a triumph, has quickly become a dead weight and as full of rotten fish as the streets of Whitehall after the fisheries protest yesterday.
Musicians have been left with confusion and the potential for huge added costs of touring incurred by visas and carnets and many more problems that may not affect millionaires like Roger Daltry will effectively kill off the opportunities for the many young and upcoming bands who, we would have hoped, would have made their mark in the already bumpy post-pandemic economy.
After the story broke that the standard proposals that would exempt performers from needing a visa to enter the EU for trips of less than 90 days was actually turned down by the UK government.
Instead of finding solutions to the problem the government is playing the blame game with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden putting the blame on the EU.
The EU quickly replied, saying that, in fact, they offered the UK 90 days of visa-free travel but the UK responded with their own proposal.
“Tory attempts to shift the blame onto the EU are just not good enough,” Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture Alison McGovern told NME. “Ministers promised time and again that UK musicians would not face barriers to touring in Europe as a result of Brexit.
“They have let our music community down and need to fix this as soon as possible. The EU have said they are open to an arrangement so the Tories need to get on with it.”
She added: “It’s been a terrible nine months for musicians and those who work alongside them compounded by an inflexible Tory chancellor unwilling to help those whose employment does not fit his rigid mould.
“This problem isn’t insurmountable, but it takes a political will that sadly seems to be lacking.”
Meanwhile, Jane Bonham Carter, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the House of Lords, told NME that she has been meeting with the Incorporated Society of Musicians to try and “move the situation beyond the blame game”.
“The government has made a right mess of this for artists,” she said. “Having promised them that there would be no problem touring in Europe, the deal they’ve struck will hammer musicians and performers with costly permits and a mountain of paperwork. This will hit artists at an especially tough time with the COVID-19 related ban on live music but especially young and emerging artists, who may now find touring in Europe unviable.”
Carter also described the EU offer that the UK government rejected as “reasonable” and said that negotiations needed to resume to fix this problem urgently.
“The EU made an offer specifically for artists which quite reasonably wanted reciprocity for their own artists; the UK instead made a counteroffer for all business travellers – which was more difficult to agree on,” she continued. “By the way, reciprocity is good for Britain because it means no disruption to seeing our favourite foreign acts here in the UK. Just think of the damage this will do to festival line-ups and so on. The government blaming the EU is predictable but it does nothing to help our creative industries.”
She added: “The government, quite simply, needs to get back around the negotiating table and secure a better deal specifically for creative industries with paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment.
“I believe there is a willingness on all sides to get this done and so the quicker the blame game ends and the sooner the details are thrashed out the better. Some form of reciprocity is going to be key and the government must understand that will be good for Britain.”