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Visa-free touring in Greece secured for UK artists

UK artists and their crews will no longer need visas to tour in Greece, it has been confirmed.

The announcement, which comes into effect on Monday (13 June), was made yesterday by the Greek deputy minister of foreign affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.

It follows extensive efforts from the Greek government and figures from across the UK and Greek music industry, including LIVE members James Wright of UTA, Craig Stanley of Marshall Arts and Paul Fenn of The Entertainment Agents’ Association.

With artists travelling to Greece previously having to apply for and receive a Schengen visa, the move represents a considerable boost for the UK’s live music sector post-Brexit.

“This is a huge victory for both artists and fans”

“This is a huge victory for both artists and fans, representing a further step towards the frictionless touring ecosystem needed by the live music sector,” says LIVE CEO Jon Collins. “The prohibitive costs and bureaucracy posed by visa regimes threaten the export and growth of budding talent from across the UK, and while issues such as cabotage and carnets remain, we will continue to work on behalf of the sector to resolve these alongside our international counterparts.”

Fenn adds: “We’re pleased to see that the diligent work of the LIVE Touring Group team coupled with the promoters in Greece quickly identified the problem that arose and managed to effectively target the lobbying in Athens to achieve a quick resolution.”

LIVE warns that despite the welcome move, which is subject to review at the end of the year, touring artists still face restrictions on touring: a three-stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return to home, and an expensive goods passport (a “carnet”), including a bond for instruments and equipment.

Last year, LIVE and the Association for British Orchestras (ABO), alongside their Spanish counterparts Asociación Promotores Musicales and key industry players such as Live Nation Spain, also successfully worked to waive visas for UK artists touring in Spain.

 


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UK bands get “reality check” on Brexit legislation

With the restart of international touring, UK bands say they are getting a “reality check” on the challenges presented by the post-Brexit trade deal.

A year on from the deal and the live music industry is still battling to resolve issues around immigration, social security, carnets, cabotage and VAT.

London-hailing band White Lies yesterday (7 April) cancelled a show in Paris after their equipment was detained by Brexit legislation.

In a statement titled “Sad News” the band wrote: “To our dear fans here in Paris, We and our crew have arrived safely this morning to start our European tour. But our equipment has been detained by Brexit legislation leaving England, along with countless other trucks.

“We are aware this happened to [another] British band last week. We’re devastated to say that without our equipment we do not have a show, and tonight’s has to be cancelled and rescheduled. It’s heartbreaking to be here in this wonderful city, and unable to perform due to such a trivial issue.”

Elsewhere, Belfast-based band New Pagans, who have returned home from a European tour with Skunk Anansie, says: “Brexit and Covid have truly done a number on small bands.”

“To break even on a tour, or even come home with a little profit was always the goal… to come home from a tour having accumulated massive debt is now the reality for many small and independent bands in 2022,” reads a tweet from the band.

“Fuel costs, tolls, venues taking 25% of merch, buying a carnet to get through customs: just a few things conspiring against you.”

Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) CEO David Martin recently told IQ that “for smaller artists, the cost of the carnet and the bond are prohibitive when it comes to touring”.

While Craig Stanley, tour producer for Marshall Arts and chair of the LIVE touring group, called the carnet process a “bureaucratic nightmare for smaller artists”.

Read more about the issues around immigration, social security, carnets, cabotage and VAT for UK touring musicians here.

 


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