Musicians face 'chaos' in no-deal Brexit, says industry group

August 16, 2019
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British musicians will be faced with “chaos” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to an influential industry group.

No deal on 31 October would see musicians incurring extra costs of up to £1,000 a year and need special documents to carry instruments outside of the UK, at a cost of up to £700, according to a new report by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM).

Its ‘Impact of Brexit on musicians’ report predicted that a lack of transitional arrangements in a no-deal scenario would bring “chaos” for touring musicians who often work in European Union countries.

“As we know from our professional musician members, the majority of musicians do not have the capacity to absorb additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, such as visa fees,” said Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM.

“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.”

The music industry is worth an estimated £4.5bn to the UK economy.

Tasmin Little is one of the Britain’s top violinists and her work takes her all over the world, often at short notice. She predicted that a no-deal exit from the European Union would bring a “bureaucratic nightmare” for musicians.

“A musician’s life is based around travel therefore ease of movement is an essential requirement,” the London-based performer told Sky News.

“Any country that values a rich cultural and musical life understands that diversity is only possible if musical communities remain international; and this can only happen if there is absolute freedom to travel, both with regard to planned tours as well as last-minute engagements.

“It is as essential for musicians from the UK to travel abroad with ease, as it is for artists from outside the UK to enter the country to work.

“The amount of red tape is increasing to an enormous proportion, and this is beginning to have a major negative impact on musicians, both in terms of time spent as well as cost involved.

“We call upon the government to understand these issues, ease these difficulties and enable us to continue to give our best and do our jobs without hindrance and excessive extra costs.”

The ISM is calling on the government to cover any additional costs that musicians will incur when travelling to the EU for work in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesperson said: “Preparations for leaving the EU, under all circumstances, are now the priority of all Government departments including DCMS.

“We recognise the importance of mobility and the temporary movement of goods for major events, tours and productions, and we continue to engage closely with the music industry to ensure impacts are understood and plans in place for when we leave the EU.”



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