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UK Music: touring may be “unviable” for many in no-deal Brexit

Michael Dugher warns that extra costs and “red tape at borders” caused by a no-deal Brexit will harm the £1bn-a-year live music industry

By Anna Grace on 03 Sep 2019

No-deal Brexit make touring unviable: UK Music's Michael Dugher

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has highlighted “growing concerns” around the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on the live music industry, in a recent letter to the home secretary.

Dugher states that the “viability of future tours” would be threatened if Britain were to exit the European Union without a deal.

The introduction of pre-paid income duty and value added tax on all merchandise brought on tour in the EU, as well as charges for moving equipment across borders, could result in an income loss of around 40% for touring acts, says Dugher.

The UK Music boss also calls for more clarification on what to expect in relation to freedom of movement post Brexit, stating the “worryingly inadequate” information currently available is preventing the industry from preparing for the possible changes ahead.

UK agents and promoters would find themselves under “considerable strain” if freedom of movement ended.

“Agents who have more EU acts on their books will see most impact,” writes Dugher, with some agents, promoters and festivals “who deal exclusively with EU artists” being “dragged into the immigration system for the first time.”

“[Immediate end to freedom of movement] would cause considerable disruption to the international live music touring industry”

The immediate end to freedom of movement “would cause considerable disruption to the international live music touring industry, in terms of UK artists travelling to the EU for concerts and vice versa,” says Dugher.

Dugher also states such a policy would “run contrary” to existing guidance which indicates there would be a three-month window in which EU citizens would be able to enter the UK to work.

“If an alternative ‘cliff edge’ policy is pursued,” continues Dugher, “it could result in retaliation from EU member states, requiring UK musicians to apply for expensive and bureaucratic visas and work permits in order to continue to tour the EU.”

UK Music and other industry associations, including the Musicians’ Union, have repeatedly pushed for a ‘touring passport’ which would allow musicians and their crews to move freely post-Brexit.

The UK’s Incorporated Society of Musicians recently called on the government to cover the additional costs incurred by musicians in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


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