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UK musicians launch petition calling on government to negotiate post-Brexit Europe-wide visa with EU

Indie artist Mattiel performing live. - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

A petition launched by touring musicians has amassed almost 230,000 signatures as they attempt to secure a free “cultural work permit” that would allow them free travel through the 27 member states to perform.

The group of musicians and tour crew who have mostly been left unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic say they “fear further hardship” when touring in Europe.

They say touring Europe will be “impossible” due to cost and time if artists are required to obtain single-use visas for every country they visit.

In a message supporting the petition, creator Tim Brennan said: “The UK has a huge music and event touring industry which has suffered immensely due to Covid.

“After the end of the transition period, we face further hardship when trying to tour the EU on a professional basis, with potentially each country asking for its own visa, that would be valid only for one trip.

“As a freelancer, I and many like me travel through the EU countless times a year on different tours and events, this will become impossible due to cost and time if we do not have visa-free travel.”

As the petition has gathered over 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in parliament.

A government spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the arts and culture sector to prepare for the end of the transition period and recognise the importance of touring for UK musicians.

“We are seeking a reciprocal agreement with the EU to allow UK citizens to undertake some business activities in the bloc without a work permit, on a short-term basis.”

One of the petition’s most vocal supporters, Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess said: “So many MPs namedrop bands and artists in order for them to seem relevant and cool.

“We now need them to help us. The UK music industry contributed £5.8bn to our economy in 2019. – for that to continue, we need to be able to tour Europe.”