UK music industry faces ‘slow and steady decline’ due to Brexit barriers – POLITICO


LONDON – British ministers must overcome their ‘Brexit ideology’ in order to tackle new obstacles that could lead to a ‘slow and steady decline’ of the UK music industry, the artists have warned.

Ten months after Brexit, touring British artists and performers are impatient with the lack of solutions to issues such as the lack of an EU-wide visa waiver allowing them to visit the bloc easily and free ; new so-called cabotage rules prohibiting British passenger vehicles over 3.5 tonnes from making more than two stops before returning to Britain; and new documents needed to bring certain musical instruments into the EU.

In a letter to UK Brexit Minister David Frost, the House of Lords’ European Affairs Committee accused the government of “failing to engage with industry constructively, of continuing to make headlines” rather than dealing with the “very serious problems” encountered. by artists touring the UK.

According to the chairman of the committee, Charles Hay, “there is an appearance of lack of coordination among the multiple departments and agencies” involved in the support and regulation of the creative industries, and “a reluctance to engage” with the industry. or the EU to find solutions.

“It is clear that the impact of the absence of provisions in the [Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement] The TCA on Creative Professionals is so severe that it forces many artists out of the industry and poses a serious threat to sections of the industry, ”Hay wrote. “We are concerned that this not only risks causing substantial damage to an important sector of the British economy, but could also undermine the government’s vision of a global Britain using its soft power to advance its interests at home. ‘international scale in the post-Brexit era. “

Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras, said the music industry has a very good engagement with UK officials, but when it comes to ministers “there is a glass ceiling of ideology that we cannot cross “.

“Ministers are not ready to listen to our concerns if what we want to change clashes with their ideology and their ideology is” the nation voted for Brexit, they voted for us to take back control of our laws, our borders and our money, ‘”he said.

The clearest example of this is the government’s refusal to accept visa-free travel for commercial purposes – including travel – in the Brexit trade talks, lest this undermine Boris Johnson’s commitment to control immigration, Pemberton said.

With mobility being a competence of EU Member States, the UK has attempted to remove the need for visas and work permits by negotiating individually with the 27 EU countries.

So far, 20 of them have put in place some sort of visa waiver for UK touring artists, covering varying durations, from 7 to 90 days a year. However, it is relatively easy for UK touring artists to rack up multiple visits to the EU and hit the 90-day limit in a 180-day period that a person outside the Schengen area without a passport can spend. in the visa-free block, Pemberton said.

Of the seven visa-free countries, Spain remains the most bureaucratic and expensive. Each musician may have to spend £ 180 on permits to perform in the country, which is a huge sum for an orchestra, he added.

After Brexit, musicians transporting instruments containing materials such as ivory, Brazilian rosewood and abalone to the EU must obtain a permit from the Conference on International Trade in Species of Wild Fauna and Flora endangered (CITES). But Pemberton said just last week, UK officials agreed to look at the lack of facilities for such checks on Eurostar trains, although the industry has raised the issue since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The number of EU students at UK conservatories is expected to drop by half, according to preliminary data cited by Linda Merrick, director of the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). EU students made up up to 25% of the total UK music student body before Brexit.

Speaking at an online event on Wednesday, she blamed the increased fees for EU students after Brexit, and the end of free movement and Britain’s participation in the Erasmus + mobility program of the EU. She warned that around thirty partnerships between the RNCM and institutions in EU countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, will become “fairly dormant”.

Pemberton warned that all of these barriers could “cut” the UK industry from the European music scene. “What concerns us (…) is the kind of slow and steady decline, as developers in Europe realize that everything has become more difficult and more expensive,” he said.

A UK government spokesperson said Britain had flagged the barriers to touring at the first meeting of the EU-UK Partnership Council, which oversees the implementation of the trade deal. They said the UK was still working with the seven EU countries without visa-free itineraries or work permits for touring professionals “to encourage them to align with the UK’s generous arrangements” for European artists on tour.

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