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UK stars weigh in as visa petition reaches parliament

Colin Greenwood, bassist for Radiohead, has become the latest high-profile British artist to make the case for free movement for musicians in Europe, arguing in an article in the Guardian today that the UK government must act to eliminate red tape on touring.

The piece, titled ‘European touring made Radiohead the band we are. Brexit must not destroy it’, follows a similarly critical piece by Sir Elton John in the same paper on Sunday (7 February) – in which John contrasts his early career, playing Hamburg and Paris and touring Europe, with the “visas, work permits and equipment carnets” which could now be required by emerging British artists.

The Guardian op-eds – along with a new campaign, Carry on Touring, which also launches today – are the latest twist in the ongoing saga over musicians’ access to continental Europe post-Brexit, which has seen the UK and EU blame each other for the lack of a dedicated arrangement for touring artists following Britain’s exit from the bloc last month.

Spearheaded by Gill Morris of DevoConnect, with help from Ian Smith of Frusion and UKE Arts Work, Carry on Touring aims to force the British government back to the negotiating table to secure EU-wide free movement for touring artists and professionals. The campaign is supporting a petition for visa-free travel by freelancer Tim Brennan, which will be debated in parliament today after reaching nearly 300,000 signatures.

The parliamentary session takes place between 16.30 and 18.30 GMT and can be watched live at Parliamentlive.tv.

“Freelancers and touring professionals desperately need MPs and the government to fight our corner”

“Support for my petition has been phenomenal,” says Brennan, whose petition has won the support of a number of members of parliament, as well as Horace Trubridge of the Musicians’ Union, Parklife’s Sacha Lord and artists Fish (Marillion) and Eliza Carthy. “Freelancers and touring professionals like myself desperately need MPs and the government to fight our corner and renegotiate the current Brexit deal for this industry.

“This is an issue that has a huge impact on my life and my ability to earn and pay tax through my work in an industry that brings pleasure to millions of people.”

Following today’s parliamentary hearing, Carry on Touring will send a letter to the prime minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to seek an amendment or exemption for touring artists.

At press time, there are at least 14 European countries – including major markets like France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland – where free, short-term entry is guaranteed for touring musicians and their crew, according to a new guide published by umbrella body LIVE. Only Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Croatia definitively require a work or temporary stay visa for UK artists.

 


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#WeAreLive: Umbrella group petitions EU for help

#WeAreLive, a coalition of event industry associations in more than a dozen northern European countries, has lodged a petition with the European Parliament to ask for “urgent measures” to save millions of jobs continent-wide.

The organisation – whose membership comprises industry associations in Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Russia – is demanding grants equivalent to 75% of companies’ fixed costs, along with the extension of existing loans, the suspension of existing EU aid framework (whose limitations, #WeAreLive says, prevent “real help for hard-hit” companies) and for EU officials to enter into real “rescue dialogue” with the events sector.

With members including the International Live Events Association Europe (Germany), Polish Event Industry Association, Sponsorship and Event Association (Norway) and Event Industry Association of Lithuania, #WeAreLive represents over 20,000 companies with more than 500,000 employees and 200,000 apprentices.

In total, the organisation says, the events sector is the 13th largest industry in Europe, generating €172.6 billion in direct GDP and supporting 2.9 million jobs.

“Governments should be looking for drivers like events to grow the economy”

In the petition, the full text of which can be read here, the associations say the live events sector must “be recognised by national and regional governments for its value now, and not in hindsight, after we are beyond saving from the outcome of Covid-19”.

“At times like this, when the recovery is so critical to our organisations, our society and our economy overall, the power of events is something that can be central in reaching this goal,” it continues. “Governments should be looking for drivers like this that grow the economy.”

The petition further urges that events is treated as an industry in its own right, rather than bundled in with culture, tourism or foreign affairs. “This [current] disunity condemns us to the lack of common solutions, help and strategies for the development of the industry at an European level,” it reads.

Dolors Montserrat, chair of the EU’s committee, has already confirmed the #WeAreLive petition is “admissible” and will be considered by the European Commission on a preliminary basis. However, it needs 200,000 signatures by EU citizens to ensure it is accepted by and debated in the European Parliament.

To sign the petition now, click here.

 


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#stopticketabuse: Spanish Boss fan petitions govt

The president of Bruce Springsteen’s Spanish fan club today launched a petition aimed forcing government to take action on for-profit secondary ticketing sites.

Joan Colet, president of the Stone Pony Club, is hoping to gather half a million signatures to present to Spain’s minister of justice, Rafael Catala Polo, minister of education, culture and sports, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, and state secretary for culture, Fernando Benzo Sainz, calling for a crackdown on the “robbery of real fans of live music” by ticket brokers.

Bruce Springsteen shows were at a centre of the secondary ticketing controversy that erupted in Spain last year, with promoter Doctor Music taking legal action – still ongoing – against several sites it accuses of “defrauding” consumers.

This was followed in February by a similar lawsuit by Berry Producciones against Viagogo and the establishment of the Anti-Resale Alliance by singer Alejandro Sanz.

“Live music fans need a government ban on the resale for profit of live music tickets”

Méndez de Vigo pledged on 8 March to “regulate” the online ticket resale market, although no concrete measures have yet been announced.

“Live music fans need a government ban on the resale for profit of live music tickets, so that we can return to buying tickets at their agreed price without risk of being ripped off,” comments Colet, who is using the hashtag #stopticketabuse to spread word about the petition.

“I have created this petition in order to gather the 500,000 signatures that will allow me to present our case to make Congress, the government and the judiciary take the necessary legislative and judicial measures so as to end the robbery of real fans of live music by a few unscrupulous people who profit at their expense.”

The petition went live on Change.org earlier today.

 


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Calls for criminal prosecution of Love Parade 10

Nearly 360,000 people have signed a petition calling for a criminal case to be opened against the organisers of the tragic 2010 Love Parade festival.

Duisburg state court ruled in April that 10 people – four employees of Love Parade promoter Lopavent and six of the city of Duisburg – would not stand trial for their role in the disaster, which left 21 people dead, owing to a lack of evidence. Lawyer Julius Reiter, representing around 100 people, including the relatives of four of the dead, called the decision a “judicial scandal” and said prosecutors would appeal to the higher regional court (Oberlandesgericht, OLG) in Dusseldorf.

A petition to Dusseldorf OLG created by Gabi Müller, the mother of victim Christian Müller, has attracted 359,188 signatures at the time of writing and will be presented to the court on Monday (25 July). It calls for a criminal trial of the 10 people who escaped prosecution in April.

Müller says she is “overwhelmed” by the response and regularly reads comments on the petition, “especially in dark hours”. “They help me to keep going and not lose hope that one day my son, Christian, and all the other victims of the Love Parade will have justice.”

Twenty-one people died and over 500 were injured on 24 July 2010 in a crush in a tunnel that served as the sole entrance to the dance music festival in Duisburg. Over a million people attended the 2010 event, which was held at a former goods yard with a capacity of around 250,000.

 


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Tudhope: Others will “follow UK’s lead” on touts

As arena-filling rock quartet Mumford & Sons announce their support for a petition demanding tough penalties for UK ticket touts, the band’s manager – and the petition’s sponsor – Adam Tudhope, says he hopes action on touting in Britain could set a precedent elsewhere in the world.

“Luckily for us we live in a wonderful country that loves to rebel, to take the path least trod,” he tells IQ. “We’re often the innovators – especially in music and in the music business, we’re always ahead of the curve. British people love music, they love disruption, and they’ll knock the establishment if it needs knocking. And then, yes, often others around the world will follow our lead.”

The petition, created by “ethical” resale marketplace Twickets and sponsored by Tudhope, entitled Enforce the Consumer Rights Act to protect music, arts and sport fans from touts, makes reference to the act of parliament of the same name, which legally requires ticket resellers to provide information on the seat or standing area the ticket is for, its face value and restrictions (for example, age) on who may use the ticket. In addition to Mumford & Sons, it has won support, using the Twitter hashtag #ToutsOut, from One Direction, Little Mix, Keane, Graham Gouldman, UK industry associations such as the Music Managers’ Forum (MMF) and the Association in Independent Festivals (AIF) and a number of MPs, and currently has just shy of 27,000 signatures of a target of 100,000, when it will be considered for debate in parliament.

“British people love music, they love disruption, and they’ll knock the establishment if it needs knocking. And then, yes, often others around the world will follow our lead”

So what would those tougher penalties look like? Would Tudhope support criminalising profiting from ticket resale? “There are already a couple of civil offences being violated: resellers are supposed to list seat number and row, and they’re also supposed to declare they’re a company if they are one – ie not a private individual,” he says. “Touts aren’t conforming to either of these bits of legislation because there’s no one to enforce it. So, yes, making it a criminal offence as it is with football, or was with the Olympics, would be a helpful and more powerful step.”

Although both Tudhope and Mumford & Sons have long been critical of the secondary ticket market in its current form, the manager says he’s not opposed to the idea of primary ticket agencies owning or partnering with secondary sites, as with Ticketmaster and Get Me In!/Seatwave and AXS and StubHub. Indeed, in an ideal world, Tudhope says, fans would “have [access to] easy-to-use websites associated with primary ticketing companies that would allow them to resell tickets to other fans at face value – plus a booking fee that doesn’t exceed 10% of the face value.”

“Fans have to be able to re-sell their tickets if they can’t go,” he continues, “but stopping people being able to profit from that reselling would stop touting dead in its tracks.”

In a statement issued in January in response to a Sunday Times article about Adele tickets listed for £1,000 on Get Me In!, Ticketmaster praised the site as offering consumers a “safe, transparent and lawful environment that responds to what fans want: the ability to buy and resell tickets when the primary supply is exhausted or purchasers can no longer use their tickets”.