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Report: Brexit negatively impacts 95% of musicians

The Incorporated Society of Musicians urges the government to “protect musicians’ livelihoods”, and highlights post-Brexit loss of freedom of movement as a key concern

By Anna Grace on 07 May 2019

ISM Brexit report

The UK’s Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has published its fourth report into the effects of Brexit on music professionals, identifying future work in EU countries as a key issue for musicians post-Brexit.

Impact of Brexit on Musicians, builds on previous surveys to reveal the concerns of more than 2,000 musicians. Almost 50% of respondents identify an impact on their professional work since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016. Of these musicians, 95% report the impact has been negative, up from 19% in 2016.

Over two thirds of respondents state the difficulty in securing future work in EU countries is the biggest post-Brexit concern, with one in ten musicians stating employers cited Brexit when cancelling or withdrawing work offers.

“I’ve had ensembles questioning me as to whether it’s feasible for them to employ me post-Brexit,” comments a survey respondent. “They’re turning to me for guidance and there is nothing I can offer them.”

Out of the musicians surveyed, the vast majority visit the EU for work at least once a year and 22% work in EU countries on a regular basis, clocking up more than eleven visits per year.

Freedom of movement for musicians post Brexit has been a key concern across the industry, with associations including industry umbrella organisation UK Music and the UK’s Musicians’ Union calling for the introduction of a dedicated ‘touring passport’ for musicians which would act as a waiver for visas and permits.

A proposal of setting a minimum £30,000 salary requirement for skilled workers post-Brexit sparked major concerns in December. UK music chief Michael Dugher pointed out that the migration rules would exclude many musicians, songwriters and producers, who earn an average annual salary of £20,504.

“Musicians’ livelihoods depend on the ability to travel easily and cheaply around multiple countries for work in a short period of time”

In a letter sent to Dugher, department for Exiting the European Union minister Robin Walker stated that artists would not face the effects of migration restrictions until the end of the implementation period in December 2020. Walker also offered assurances that the safeguarding of touring musicians would be a priority post-Brexit, but did not specify the ways in which the government would do so.

In case of the loss of freedom of movement, ISM’s Save Music campaign advocates the introduction of a two-year, multi-entry working visa tailored specifically for musicians. 64% of those surveyed stated that such a visa would alleviate concerns relating to EU-based work in the future.

The report also recommended more resources be made available for musicians seeking guidance on mobility issues, urging a government department to set up a hotline for this purpose.

Impact of Brexit on Musicians demonstrates how much the music workforce depends on EU27/EEA countries for professional work, and reveals a profession who are deeply concerned about the future as the UK prepares to leave the EU,” says ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts.

“Musicians’ livelihoods depend on the ability to travel easily and cheaply around multiple countries for work in a short period of time.

“At a time of great uncertainty, musicians need to know their jobs in EU27/EEA will be secure once the UK leaves the EU. Therefore we call for the government to take action, using the recommendations outlined in this report, to protect musicians’ livelihood and the all-important music and wider creative industries.”


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