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MPs call for Cultural Touring Agreement and touring tsar to tackle post-Brexit challenges for UK artists

By | Published on Tuesday 19 July 2022

Houses Of Parliament

The All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music in the UK Parliament has published a new report demanding that the government do more to assist and support British artists who are facing new challenges and bureaucracy touring Europe post-Brexit. It summarises – and confirms cross-party support for – various measures that the music community has called for since the post-Brexit UK/European Union trade agreement was first published.

The APPG report notes that that agreement included no pan-European provision for bureaucracy-free touring for UK artists, which is why the parliamentary group began work on this report, which involved two evidence sessions, a survey and a written call for evidence.

“Our work found that while limited progress has been made, UK music workers are facing more costs, more complications and getting fewer opportunities after leaving the EU”, the report states. “Issues include visa restrictions, a range of new bureaucratic costs, difficulties transporting kit and the exodus of the UK event haulage fleet. There has not been any compensation from improved access to other markets”.

To address these issues, the report goes on, “the UK government should work more closely with EU institutions and EU member states to improve the [UK/EU] Trade And Co-operation Agreement”.

In addition to that, “the UK government should push for a comprehensive Cultural Touring Agreement with the EU, to liberate cultural touring from the bureaucracy that is holding it back”, and it should “work productively with music industry to create and deliver a music export strategy”.

The report also makes some more detailed recommendations in relation to each of those three big requests.

On improving the Trade And Co-operation Agreement…

• The UK government should agree an exemption for music workers supporting cultural performances in the TCA, and work with individual member states to get all states up to the current 90 in 180 day limit for working musicians.

• The UK government should improve the UK border by expanding the number of points where documents like carnets and music instrument certificates can be checked (including Eurostar) and improve Border Force training.

• The UK government should secure a return of the on own account exemption and expand the non-commercial use exemption for live cultural road haulage.

Regarding the proposed Cultural Touring Agreement…

• The UK government should negotiate a general agreement on cultural touring to end the tax on touring, reduce bureaucracy and allow specialist event hauliers to properly support tours.

And in relation to a UK music export strategy:

• The UK government should appoint a minister to act as a single point of contact for the touring cultural sector.

• The UK government should develop institutions to support UK music exports, including instituting a music export office, and launching a website for live music exporters.

• The UK government should boost funding for UK music exporters, including creating a transitional support fund to address EU transition costs and expanding existing programmes such as the BPI-administered Music Export Growth Scheme and the PRS Foundation-administered International Showcase Fund.

Commenting on the report, APPG On Music Chair Kevin Brennan MP says: “We have heard evidence from right across the UK music industry about some of the horrendous problems musicians and crew face touring the EU. It’s over two years since Brexit, yet there is still a mountain of red tape and extra costs that musicians and crew have to deal with before they can play to fans in many EU states”.

Brennan specifically hones in on the recommendation that a single minister take responsibility for addressing the various issues, given multiple departments of government are involved here, which tends to allow ministers to passionately agree something must be done, but then do nothing, on the basis it’s really another department’s problem.

Dubbing that minister the ‘touring tsar’, the APPG chair goes on: “Our recommendations include the appointment of a ‘touring tsar’ by the government who could work across government departments to get rid of restrictions that are hampering the growth of the music industry and creation of new jobs. Without urgent action there is a very real risk that the talent pipeline on which the UK music industry relies will be badly damaged for years to come”.

Welcoming the new report, UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin states: “This excellent report from a cross-party group of MPs and peers spells out with crystal clarity the challenges many musicians and crew still face when they set out to tour and work in the EU”.

“The influence of British music, right across the world, is one of the greatest examples of the UK’s soft power”, he goes on. “Touring musicians are ambassadors for Britain and government should be doing everything it can to help remove the barriers they face. The UK is a global music superpower – if we want to keep it that way, then it’s mission critical we remove the barriers facing touring musicians and Let The Music Move”.

If you’re wondering why Njoku-Goodwin spoke those last words with capital letters – and he definitely did, I heard him, there was definitely capitals there – well, that’s the name of the report. And the music industry’s campaign on this. Grab yourself a copy of the report here.