Musicians could be stopped from touring Europe if no visa deal agreed, warn group

The Incorporated Society of Musicians have launched a new campaign called Save Music. Picture: Inco

The Incorporated Society of Musicians have launched a new campaign called Save Music. Picture: Incorporated Society of Musicians - Credit: Archant

Artists could be stopped from performing and touring in Europe if the government fails to agree a deal with the EU, a professional body for musicians has said.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) issued the warning on the launch of its campaign, Save Music, which is calling on ministers to ensure freedom of movement for musicians post-Brexit.

It argues that touring artists should be treated differently, in the new immigration system. If complete freedom of movement cannot be secured for them in the Brexit negotiations, the campaign is calling for the introduction of two-year working visas for musicians to allow them to tour in Europe. Without these measures, the group warns there will be a severe impact on the music industry.

The ability for Britons to travel freely through the EU is in doubt with no agreement in place for working or travel visas within the EU post-Brexit.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM, said: 'For decades our musicians have had the right to travel freely across the EU, performing their music in numerous different countries to countless audiences.

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'For many musicians this has been of immense value in creating music, establishing their careers and keeping a roof over their heads.'

She added: 'The ability to travel freely lies at the heart of creating music – music is universal and knows no boundaries. The very best music often comes from musicians from all walks of life coming together to collaborate.

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'The House of Lords EU Select Committee report, published in July 2018, recognised the importance of freedom of movement for musicians and recommended a multi-entry visa enabling creatives, including musicians, to continue to work freely across the EU post-Brexit. We along with many other music organisations believe that a two-year visa is what is needed.'

Annetts warned ministers plans to extend the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visa, which allows entry into the country if you are invited by a UK organisation, could see a repeat of the issues performers had at WOMAD earlier this year.

Organisers of the world music festival, held annually in Wiltshire, claimed performers were declining invitations to play due to the 'difficult and humiliating' visa process.

Annets said: 'At the moment government does not seem to be able to differentiate between immigration and life as a touring musician.

'It cannot be underestimated the damage that will be done to the music we enjoy and the music that is yet to be created if we don't get the two-year visa.'

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