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ISM: Govt must cover musicians’ Brexit costs

The UK’s Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is calling on the government to cover additional costs incurred by musicians travelling to EU countries for work, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The ISM, a professional body for musicians, has calculated that additional costs of up to £1,000 per year will be levied against artists bringing instruments into the European Union.

Temporary international customs documents, or carnets, allowing musicians to move instruments and equipment outside the UK will set artists back £500 to £700. Currently, no extra cost is incurred when moving goods between countries.

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

If Britain leaves the EU, UK musicians will also have to purchase private medical insurance, costing £70 per year or up to £320 for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Other costs include musical instrument certificates for instruments containing endangered species (such as ivory, rosewood or tortoiseshell), international driving permits and, potentially, visas.

“The majority of musicians do not have the capacity to absorb additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit”

According to the ISM, whose Impact of Brexit on Musicians report shows 95% of artists will be negatively impacted by Brexit, the “lack of transitional arrangements” in a no-deal scenario will result in “chaos” for musicians touring in the EU.

ISM president Dr Jeremy Huw Williams says “this uncertainty threatens the livelihoods of thousands of UK-based musicians who rely on touring in EU countries for work”.

Williams urges the government to “fully cover [extra] costs” in advance of the Brexit deadline date of 31 October. Failing this, the ISM president states the government should “provide a full compensation scheme to support musicians in the first three years following Brexit, at the very least.”

“The majority of musicians do not have the capacity to absorb additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” comments ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts. “These costs would be impossible for most freelance musicians, who earn on average around £20,000 per year.

“They would simply be unable to allocate up to 5% of their earnings to additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

Through its Save Music campaign, the ISM aims to secure either freedom of movement for musicians or the introduction of a two-year working visa dedicated to musicians post Brexit.

 


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UK orgs slam “clueless” post-Brexit immigration plan

Michael Dugher, chief executive of industry umbrella organisation UK Music, has warned that government plans to limit immigration after Britain leaves the EU would jeopardise the UK’s “world-leading” music business.

Responding to the publication of a white paper setting out proposed post-Brexit rules for migrants – including a consultation on a minimum £30,000 salary requirement for skilled workers seeking five-year visas – Dugher says the salary threshold would exclude many musicians, songwriters and producers, who earn an average of £20,504 annually.

“The UK music industry contributes £4.5 billion to the economy, with live music alone contributing around £1bn,” he comments. “As we’ve made repeatedly clear, a crude salaries and skills approach to freedom to work post-Brexit just doesn’t work for so many artists and musicians. We risk limiting the ability for European musicians to play in our world-leading festivals, venues and studios.

“If this approach is reciprocated by the EU and there is no visa waiver in place, we risk making it very hard, if not impossible, for so many UK artists to tour in EU. This is how they build an audience and, frankly, make any kind of living from music.”

The organisation has previously called for the introduction of a ‘touring passport’ or visa waiver for musicians and crews.

“It is frustrating in the extreme that there are still some people in government who have their fingers in their ears”

“It is frustrating in the extreme that there are still some people in government who have their fingers in their ears,” Dugher continues.

“This is utterly clueless. It’s vital that we don’t pull the rug from under Britain’s world-leading music industry.”

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) – which is leading the Save Music campaign for post-Brexit freedom of movement – has also voiced opposition to the government plans.

‘The end of freedom of movement will have a devastating impact on British musicians,” she says. “The introduction of harsher immigration rules after Brexit will cause declining diversity and creativity in the British music industry. It could also potentially lead to the introduction of reciprocal immigration rules by EU countries.

“While it is good news that government does not intend to immediately introduce a £30,000 minimum income threshold for new immigrants, we do urge for any future plans to be abandoned. Such a threshold is not compatible with the music profession, where earnings can be less. We look forward to working with the government during the consultation period.”

 


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Save Music: ISM adds voice to post-Brexit movement debate

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the professional body for UK musicians, has launched a new campaign, Save Music, that aims to secure either freedom of movement to be maintained for artists post-Brexit, or the introduction of a two-year working visa specifically for musicians.

The campaign follows an EU Select Committee report which recommended the introduction of a multi-entry visa for creatives, including musicians, post-Brexit, as well as the ISM’s own Musicians and Brexit report, which highlighted the post-Brexit concerns of the association’s 9,000 members.

“For decades our musicians have had the right to travel freely across the EU, performing their music in numerous different countries to countless audiences,” comments ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts (pictured). “For many musicians this has been of immense value in creating music, establishing their careers and keeping a roof over their heads.

“The ability to travel freely lies at the heart of creating music – music is universal and knows no boundaries. The very best music often comes from musicians from all walks of life coming together to collaborate.

“It cannot be underestimated the damage that will be done to the music we enjoy … if we don’t get the two-year visa”

“The House of Lords EU Select Committee report, published in July 2018, recognised the importance of freedom of movement for musicians and recommended a multi-entry visa enabling creatives, including musicians, to continue to work freely across the EU post-Brexit. We, along with many other music organisations, believe that a two-year visa is what is needed.

“And yet at the moment government does not seem to be able to differentiate between immigration and life as a touring musician. Instead they are suggesting an extension of the disastrous PPE [permitted paid engagement] which prevented so many musicians performing at Womad earlier this year. It cannot be underestimated the damage that will be done to the music we enjoy, and the music that is yet to be created, if we don’t get the two-year visa.

“That is the ISM has launched Save Music, a campaign calling on everyone – and not just musicians – to lobby their MP and endorse the two-year visa.”

A similar proposal, floated by UK Music and backed by at least one prominent pro-Brexit MP, is the creation of temporary ‘touring passport’ for British artists playing EU countries, while the Musicians’ Union, similar to ISM, has called for a dedicated EU touring visa for musicians.

 


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MU throws support behind post-Brexit touring passport

The UK’s Musicians’ Union (MU), which represents more than 30,000 artists, has urged the British government to introduce a dedicated EU touring visa for musicians working in the European Union after Brexit.

A similar proposal, for a post-Brexit touring ‘passport’, has previously been mooted by industry umbrella association UK Music.

The MU says the visa should be “affordable, multi-entry, admin-light and cover all EU member states”.

“If musicians can’t travel easily both ways, our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged”

Horace Trubridge, the union’s general secretary, says: “Music, and the performing arts more generally, rely on exchange of ideas and interaction between performers of different nationalities.

“We love working in the EU and we love artists coming over here. If musicians can’t travel easily both ways, our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged. Our members’ ability to earn a living will also be severely affected.”

An MU petition calls on government and parliament to introduce this visa, and the union will also take the proposal to the Labour and Conservative party conferences. MU members are encouraged to contact their MPs asking them to visit the MU’s stand to discuss this and other issues affecting musicians.

 


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Dugher reiterates support for post-Brexit touring passport

Michael Dugher, the chief executive of UK Music, has said the industry umbrella group is still pushing for a touring ‘passport’ for British artists after Brexit, should UK and EU officials not come to an agreement on freedom of movement.

Dugher said in September the UK should consider introducing a “single EU-wide live music ‘touring passport’ to avoid new restrictions, costs and bureaucracy on artists and musicians” after Britain leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

Speaking to IQ yesterday, Dugher (pictured) reiterated his support for the measure, saying the music industry “urgently” needs clarity on post-Brexit travel arrangements for when, as is planned, UK-EU freedom of movement ends in 2019.

“We’ve been talking to ministers, officials, the Migration Advisory Committee, to say, ‘Look, we urgently need a visa arrangement in place for when Britain does exit the European Union,’ he explained, “so that artists and their crews and their equipment and everything else can move freely at short notice and access gigs across the European Union.

“We urgently need a visa arrangement in place for when Britain exits the European Union”

“That’s something we’ll be continuing to press.”

Asked if the idea of a touring passport has found much in the way of support in the corridors of power, Dugher – a former Labour member of parliament who became UK Music CEO last April – said: “Yes, definitely”, adding that, “in fairness to the [Conservative] government, they’re trying very hard to come up with a solution to this.”

Leading visa experts told IQ last year a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, with no provisions for European freedom of movement, would likely have a negative impact on international touring. “If the current customs regulations are made more time-consuming, that will impact live tours, putting tight time schedules at risk,” said T&S Immigration Services’ Steve Richard.

 


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