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58% want ministers to do more to help musicians post-Brexit, poll finds

·3 min read

More than half of people (58%) think the Government should be doing more to ensure musicians can work abroad post-Brexit, according to a poll.

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the European Union (EU) and have prompted fears touring artists will incur large fees in many of the countries they visit.

A survey, commissioned UK Music, which represents the interests of the sector, suggested 7% disagreed with the statement that the Government should be doing more while 26% said they neither agreed nor disagreed.

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Some 9% responded as “don’t knows”.

Younger voters were keenest to see more action, with 62% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying the Government is not doing enough to help musicians tour within the bloc.

A majority of over-65s held a similar view, with 54% saying the Government should do more.

Asked if the Government should be doing more to support the UK music industry in general, 56% agreed, with 8% disagreeing.

Research was conducted by pollsters Public First on June 9 and 10 with a sample size of 2,080.

Sir Elton John has warned musicians face a “looming catastrophe” because of post-Brexit travel restrictions while the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has held sessions scrutinising handling of negotiations with the EU.

Disney’s The Lion King European Premiere – London
Sir Elton John (Ian West/PA)

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “For months, the UK music industry has been calling for an urgent solution to the challenges facing British musicians and crews wanting to work and tour in Europe.

“Now it’s clear that the public is behind us and voters want to see more action too.

“The Government has just proved in its trade deal with EEA member states that the visa barriers can be removed when enough political will is applied.

“Now they must do the same in negotiations with EU member states and ensure British musicians can work and tour in Europe with ease.”

Opera singer Jennifer Johnston said: “I am a British success story in classical music yet I now find my career in grave danger because of the issues surrounding visas and work permits post-Brexit.

“If European work disappears there is not enough work in the UK to sustain the numbers of British opera singers that exist.

“Those of us in my position acknowledge that we are a minority, but we are a high-profile minority, a world-class and highly successful aspect of British music exports.

“We deserve our voices to be heard in asking the UK and EU governments to return to the negotiating table.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We want performers and other creative professionals to be able to tour easily abroad.

“Short-term, temporary visits for paid performances by UK performers are possible in at least 17 EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, without needing visas or work permits.

“However, we recognise the difficulties still being faced by the sector. That is why we are working closely with individual member states to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.”

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