A U.K. Parliament petition that has now amassed 250,000 signatures doesn’t look to have loosened Brexit-imposed travel restrictions for musicians. According to reports, the government has turned down an agreement that would allow visa-free tours of U.K. artists to EU countries and vice versa.
The proposal would have exempted traveling artists from the cost and bureaucracy of travel permits, according to an anonymous EU source cited by The Independent. “It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians,” the individual said. “We tried to include it, but the U.K. said no.”
The U.K. had previously blamed Brussels for the breakdown in negotiations, but their rumored refusal has drawn criticism from many who want them to share the specific nature of the discussions. Incorporated Society of Musicians CEO Deborah Annetts, for instance, said she was “horrified” to hear that U.K. politicians shot down the proposal after having previously levied harsh criticism towards the crackdown.
Under the restrictions which went into place after the Brexit transition period ended on January 1st, any musician or group member from the EU must apply for a visa, which costs £244, in addition to providing evidence that they have almost £1,000 or more in savings 90 days before doing so. An event organizer must also provide a certificate of sponsorship or invitation letter taking responsibility for the individual.
Annetts has argued that a large number of musicians will be shut out by the requirements at a time when COVID-19 has already crippled the industry. “This will cut the legs off the bottom half of the music industry,” she said. “And what is going to happen to our small venues who have to go through this process to bring artists across from the EU?”
Without an agreement in place across the EU, individual countries belonging to the bloc will be left to decide whether they should require work visas of touring musicians.
Image credit: Josh Gordon