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Musicians ‘failed by government’ over EU touring, stars

Some of the UK’s biggest music stars have written to the government demanding action to ensure visa-free touring in the European Union.

Sir Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Nicola Benedetti are among 110 artists who have signed the open letter.

It said they had been “shamefully failed” by the government over post-Brexit travel rules for UK musicians.

On Tuesday, the government confirmed it had turned down an EU offer that would have enabled frictionless touring.

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said the EU’s “very broad” offer “would not have been compatible with the government’s manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders”.

However, she said “the door is open” if the EU was willing to “consider the UK’s very sensible proposals” to reach an agreement for musicians.

In the meantime, she confirmed, musicians and artists touring the continent “will be required to check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each member state in which they intend to tour”.

  • EU blames UK after outcry over musicians’ touring
  • Pressure mounts over EU tour visas for musicians

That may require them to have multiple visas or work permits, which some industry experts say will be expensive and potentially prohibitive – especially for musicians at the start of their careers.

Other names on the open letter include Sir Simon Rattle, Sting, Brian May, Radiohead, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Roger Daltrey and Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis.

The Who frontman Daltrey has signed despite recently being reported to have questioned the campaign by musicians, telling Sky News: “What’s [Brexit] got to do with the rock business? As if we didn’t tour in Europe before the EU.”

‘Tip performers over the edge’

The letter was organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and published in The Times.

“The reality is that British musicians, dancers, actors and their support staff have been shamefully failed by their government,” it said.

“The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits for many countries they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment.”

The extra costs will “tip many performers over the edge”, it claimed.

“We call on the government to urgently do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment,” it added.

“For the sake of British fans wanting to see European performers in the UK and British venues wishing to host them, the deal should be reciprocal.”

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, added: “World-renowned performers, emerging artists from every genre and the most respected figures from leading organisations within our sector are now sending a clear message.

“It is essential for the government to negotiate a new reciprocal agreement that allows performers to tour in Europe for up to 90 days, without the need for a work permit.”

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