Brexit Could Be ‘Devastating’ for Touring Bands in the UK and Europe
More than three years after the United Kingdom’s initial Brexit vote, the UK is no longer a part of the European Union. With their withdrawal from the EU, rules in the UK have begun to change, and one part of the post-Brexit shift could potentially hurt international touring bands.
Currently, musicians and crews from European Union countries are allowed to travel and tour throughout the UK without restrictions, including work permits or visas. However, beginning in 2021, touring creatives traveling to the UK from the EU will be forced to apply for a visa and pay to perform, the Home Office has confirmed.
Artists will also need to prove they have roughly £1,000 in savings 90 days before applying for a visa. The amount is intended to act as proof that the artist is able to support themselves financially.
“The Brexit deal creates barriers to being able to perform in Europe and for European performers to perform in the UK – barriers that will only be able to be managed by artists with a certain level of success,” UK Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd tells NME. “This is basically a tax on new and emerging musicians. It’s not a tax that will have any impact on your James Blunts and Roger Daltreys. Someone will sit in an office and fill in all of their paperwork.”
Gengahr frontman Felix Bushe also spoke to the publication, expressing worries that performing in the European Union will soon mirror the difficulties of coming to the United States. “Any band who has ever looked at touring America will know what a complete fucking shit-show it is,” says Bushe tell. “It’s an absolute fucking joke. There is no special relationship; an American artist pays about £120 to come to the UK for a visa, but for a UK band going to the States it’s about £3,500. I’m not saying it’s going to be that difficult across Europe, but if it’s at all similar then the majority of acts just won’t be able to do it.”
He continues, “If it goes as badly as it could, then it’s going to be devastating for any mid-level bands. New bands might as well just give up now, because they’re not going to be able to tour around Europe.”
In response to the upcoming regulations, the Musicians’ Union has started a petition to enact a new passport which will allow acts and crew to travel freely between EU countries. The musicians' passport would "last a minimum of two years, be free or cheap, cover all EU member states, get rid of the need for carnets and other permits, and cover road crew, technicians and other staff necessary for musicians to do their job."
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