Mumford & Sons and Idris Elba warn PM of post-Brexit touring ‘crisis’

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Fifty acts including Mumford & Sons, Idris Elba, Massive Attack and Fatboy Slim have signed a letter to the Prime Minister warning of an impending “crisis” over post-Brexit touring in the European Union.

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the bloc and have prompted fears touring artists will incur large fees in many of the countries they visit.

The letter, organised by talent agency WME on behalf of its clients, says there is a “limited window of opportunity” for the Government to find a solution to the “prohibitive” costs performers face abroad.

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Fatboy Slim is among the artists to have signed the letter (Yui Mok/PA)

It says: “The UK music industry, which sustains over 197,000 full-time jobs, is amongst the most affected by Covid-19’s devastating impacts and thousands of musicians whose livelihoods depend on touring are keen to get back to work.

“However, due to the changes brought about by Brexit, we are facing a crisis that may prevent that from happening, and we need your help.”

The signees say “new immigration rules” meaning artists would need to secure individual visas for each country they visit would cause a “logistical nightmare as many engagements are booked on much tighter timeframes”.

“These new challenges will impact all musicians, and unfortunately, emerging talent in particular, as touring becomes cost prohibitive for most,” they added.

The letter continues: “To deliver on your commitment, we urge you to find solutions that ensure performers and their creative teams do not need to obtain a visa and work permit each time they seek paid work in any EU country.

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Yui Mok/PA)

“We, in collaboration with our industry partners and in support of the campaign #LetTheMusicMove, seek and implore you to deliver on your commitment, and urge you to find solutions that ensure performers and their creative teams can seek paid work in any EU country without impediment.”

The letter notes that many acts are already planning for European tours this year and that there is a “limited window of opportunity to solve the issues threatening our industry”.

It concludes: “We would ask that you urgently consider our request to fervently engage on this issue to ensure that additional paperwork and costs are removed to enable musicians to tour Europe once more and bring joy to millions of people.”

Other signees include Pete Tong, Rick Astley, Keane, Groove Armada, Duran Duran, Anna Calvi and Young Fathers.

The letter comes on the same day the #LetTheMusicMove campaign urged action to ensure an end to “Brexit-related cost, paperwork and bureaucracy currently preventing EU touring”.

Acts including Radiohead, Chemical Brothers and Annie Lennox warned that musicians face “insurmountable financial and logistical barriers created by Brexit” and called on the Government to “save” EU touring.

Last month, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said artists will be able to undertake some touring in at least 17 of the 27 European Union member states without needing visas or work permits.

He told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee he has engaged with every EU country on the issue since January.

There have been calls from across the performing arts industries for a cultural work permit deal to be reached between the Government and the EU, with a petition on the issue securing more than 280,000 signatures.

A Government spokeswoman said: “We want performers and other creative professionals to be able to tour easily abroad.

“Short-term, temporary visits for paid performances by UK performers are possible in at least 17 EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, without needing visas or work permits.

“However, we recognise the difficulties still being faced by the sector.

“That is why we are working closely with individual member states to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.”

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