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Live industry reacts to no-deal Brexit touring advice

Several UK live industry figures have described as inadequate new guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on touring after a no-deal Brexit, amid growing concern within the business over the viability of future tours.

Two DCMS guides – one for movement of people and the other for objects, animals and equipment – highlight key questions and actions to consider before embarking on tour.

The guidance advises touring artists and their teams to check immigration regulations for each EU country, ensure they have appropriate insurance and obtain a ‘green card’, GB sticker and, in some cases, an international driving permit, for vehicles and drivers.

A £326 ATA carnet is recommended to avoid paying duty on equipment and other goods. For those wanting to sell merchandise, DCMS advises applying for an EORI number “as soon as possible”, as failing to do so may incur “increased costs and delays”.

“It’s not very clear, is it?”, Paradigm agent Rob Challice says of the new no-deal Brexit guidance. “It hardly conveys that the government is in a state of readiness for no deal.

“What we do know,” continues Challice, “is that advice is going to change over the next four weeks and some of it will not be clear before 1 November.”

Music industry tax specialist and Hardwick and Morris partner Kevin Offer, who believes “some form of agreement covering touring” post-Brexit is needed, agrees that not much “detail” has been given in the new guide.

“The guidance hardly conveys that the government is in a state of readiness for no deal”

“Emphasis [is] placed on ‘check with the country you’re visiting’, although the EU is one customs area so the procedures should be the same,” Offer tells IQ.

For Offer, the subject of merchandise is not given enough attention in the new guides. “My understanding is that there is a possibility of paying import duty and (possibly) VAT at the point when merchandise to be sold at gigs enters the first EU country,” says Offer.

“I think that is going to be one of the main considerations on cash flow and budgets when planning tours.”

In August, industry professionals raised the alarm over regulations that would see musicians pay import duty and VAT on all merchandise in advance of touring in the case of a no-deal Brexit, with many pointing out that merchandising is “essential” for grassroots musicians in particular.

Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says the DCMS guidance, while useful, “does not translate into readiness”. He tells the Guardian he does not feel the live music industry was ready for a no-deal Brexit, citing issues including VAT, data protection and the movement of people and equipment. “Despite repeated calls for an EU-wide ‘touring passport’ in the event of no deal, all we have are short-term assurances regarding freedom of movement up to December 2020 – and then ‘leave to remain’ for a further 36 months.”

“A no-deal Brexit could effectively mark the death knell for touring for the majority of low-earning touring musicians”

The guidance follows calls from industry figures, including UK Music boss Michael Dugher, for more clarification on what to expect if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

Dugher had warned that the “worryingly inadequate” information previously available was preventing the industry for preparing for what lay ahead.

“A no-deal Brexit could effectively mark the death knell for touring for the majority of low-earning touring musicians who are immensely talented and add tremendous economic value to the country,” Dugher tells IQ.

“In addition to the additional cost and red tape potentially associated with a no-deal Brexit, anyone bringing goods into or taking goods out of the UK in baggage or a small vehicle, which they intend to use for business, will be forced to declare the goods and pay import duty and VAT before moving them across the border.

“Britain is a global leader in music. The live music sector alone contributes £1 billion to the economy and it is the jewel in the crown. Why would the government want to kill this golden goose?”


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