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UK government slated over lack of visa waiver agreement for touring artists

The UK government has been urged to put in place a visa waiver agreement for touring musicians after post-Brexit travel rules have left the industry “in crisis.”

The new regulations mean that musicians travelling around the EU are no longer guaranteed visa-free travel.

While the UK government has previously said the EU rejected its proposals which would have allowed musicians to travel more freely, it admitted it is not currently in talks with EU member states over touring arrangements.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, who today (Tuesday) appeared in front of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee in a one-off session about the Government’s handling of negotiations with the EU, said UK artists are already losing summer gigs due to the challenges faced touring inside the EU.

Annetts told MPs: “Since we moved post-Brexit, so post the transition period, I think the adverse impact of Brexit to the creative industries and in particular the freelance community has become even more stark.

“I have been inundated with personal testimony from musicians as to the work that they have lost or are going to lose now in Europe as a result of the new visa and work permit arrangements.

“Some of them are really quite heart-rending, with musicians saying they are thinking of giving up being a musician altogether.”

She called on Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage to “show leadership and put in place a visa waiver agreement”.

However, Dinenage dismissed the idea of visa-free touring and said that there was “no appetite” to restart negotiations with the EU. She said agreements with individual member states are a “more likely success route,” but admitted no such discussions were currently taking place.

She said: “We fought for a really good deal for our world-leading creative industries, and I deeply regret that the EU rejected our proposals. The proposals that they put on the table wouldn’t have addressed the sector’s concerns.”

More than 280,000 people have signed a petition calling for a cultural work permit deal to be reached between the Government and EU.