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Spain backs down on touring visas for UK musicians

Artists touring Spain will no longer require visas for short-term work, after the UK’s exit from the European Union has caused issues for musicians touring within Europe. 

Music organisations LIVE and The Association of British Orchestras worked alongside Spanish counterparts Asociación Promotores Musicales to flip the rules, and allow musicians and crew to tour the country without the need for a visa. 

Touring had become expensive, complicated and difficult following Brexit and particularly tricky in Spain, due to the complex visa application process. Artists, their promoters and crew would have to complete applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish and provide itinerary details before being allowed to tour. 

Other information included accommodation details and flight allocations, as well as offering proof that the artist made almost £1000 ($1346/€1188) before leaving the country. Costs were also a major prohibitive factor for orchestras, with an estimate of £10,000 needed for an orchestra to visit Spain for up to five days. 

Touring artists and production teams also had to wait for over a month to find out if their application had been successful, meaning long-term scheduling was difficult. 

“We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish Government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications,” said Craig Stanley, chair of the LIVE Touring Group. 

“A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve as an industry when we work together.
“However, that is still only one small part of a very large problem affecting our ability to tour in the round. We are calling on the Government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union.”

It is a positive step for musicians, but Spain still presents several challenges for touring, including restrictions such as a three-stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return home, and an expensive goods passport, including a bond for instruments and equipment. 

Mark Pemberton, director, Association of British Orchestras, added: “The ABO is delighted that the Spanish Government has introduced a visa waiver for live performance. We have already heard from member orchestras that have had to go through the painful and expensive process of securing visas for their musicians these past months, and this will be welcome news for those orchestras with impending tours. It means we can continue to bring the best of British music-making to Spain.”

Image: Larisa Birta on Unsplash