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Spain waives visas for UK touring artists

The fifth-largest live music market in the world previously posed the most costly and complicated visa application process in the EU

By IQ on 16 Nov 2021


After months of lobbying from live music trade bodies, British artists will no longer need a visa when entering Spain to undertake a short-term tour.

Spain, the fifth-largest live music market in the world, has posed the most costly and complicated visa application process in the European Union for artists looking to travel for short-term work.

Until now, artists and their promoters have been required to file applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish, provide a host of itinerary details before knowing whether the tour could go ahead and give proof of applicant earnings of up to nearly £1,000 before ever having left the country.

Touring artists and their production teams were also required to wait for over a month for a decision, making long term scheduling impossible.

Today’s seminal change follows months of dedicated work from live music industry trade body LIVE, the Association for British Orchestras (ABO) and their Spanish counterpart, APM Musicales, as well as Live Nation Spain.

“We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications,” says Craig Stanley, chair of the LIVE Touring group.

“[This is] still only one small part of a very large problem affecting our ability to tour in the round”

“A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve when we work together.

“However, that is still only one small part of a very large problem affecting our ability to tour in the round. We are calling on the [UK] government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union,” he concludes.

Mark Pemberton, director of Association of British Orchestras, adds: “The ABO is delighted the Spanish government has introduced a visa waiver for live performance.

“We have already heard from member orchestras that had had to go through the painful and expensive process of securing visas for their musicians these past months, and this will be welcome news for those orchestras with impending tours. It means we can continue to bring the best of British music-making to Spain.”

“Spain couldn’t afford another day being left behind in European touring routes”

Marta Pallares, from Spain’s marquee festival, Primavera Sound, comments: “This is, definitely, the best early Christmas present we could have had, and it’s great that it arrived before the bands which are meant to tour in 2022 spent any more money and energy on this nonsense.

“Spain couldn’t afford another day being left behind in European touring routes, and definitely British bands didn’t deserve losing one of their biggest markets especially after the pandemic hit. This agreement, which involved a joint effort from several ministries, is benefitting even more–for once– small and medium-sized bands, that’s the beauty of it.”

While today’s news represents a positive step towards the return of international touring, artists still face restrictions on touring in Spain such as a three-stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return to home and a hugely expensive goods passport (a “carnet”), including a bond for instruments and equipment.

As a result of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, European touring has become more expensive and more complicated for touring artists.

LIVE is continuing to lobby the government to work with individual EU nations to tackle the problem of visas and permits, prioritising the seven member states with the most urgent issues, such as Croatia.

 


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