Never Mind The Bollocks – the UK government plays disaster politics with UK music and the EU

 

 

This week our Government of All Talents debated in Parliament the debacle of touring in the EU. Caroline Dineage a junior minister in the Culture department rejected a letter from some of the UK’s biggest artists who want action now but she claimed that the door is still open to the EU to continue discussions. She also tried to put blame firmly in the EU’s court by saying their offer of 90 day visa free access to artists and support staff did not cover the technical crews and it only covered ‘ad hoc’ shows. She also revealed that this regime would be pursuing facilitation agreements with 26 territories (Ireland is exempt) and not a waiver solution. Ms Dineage is also claiming that the discussions they had with various industry parties favoured this solution though this claim has be wholly rejected by the Musicians Union and Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM).

 

The Government of All Talents either have no understanding of how the live industry works or they are wilfully ignoring the information they are provided with from those routed in the live industry and have years of experience in how touring works. I think it’s a bit of both. Ms Dineage during the debate stated that the EU’s offer was rejected as it fell short of the Conservative Party’s commitment in their manifesto!!! These all knowing and all-seeingsoothsayers of the Tory party seem convinced that if they allow the 90 visa free touring offer then the UK will be invaded by thousands and thousands of Europeans desperate to reside in Johnson’s Eldorado (which he claimed the fishing industry would soon be enjoying). This is both an insult to Europeans and to creative artists of the UK and EU. To not understand the benefits of sharing cultural experiences is how humans have evolved since the beginning of time.

 

Ms Dineage and her mysteriously invisible boss Oliver Dowden must think musicians make millions when they tour if their solution is for musicians to find out for themselves each territories policy on entering and exiting that particular country. The Culture department obviously have no idea that for a touring party and even a small crew the idea of having 26 x 6 visa costs plus a detailed itinerary will cost a small fortune as this cost comes on top of vehicle hire, fuel costs, crew salary, accommodation, etc. For session musicians it is a nightmare scenario as often these musicians are asked at a momentnotice to travel to a country to cover for a sick musician. Under the current proposals this cannot happen any longer.

 

Christiaan Munro, the director of the British merchandising company Sandbag told the Guardian this week that when they enquired nobody in government could tell them how much it will cost to import merchandise into EU countries. Staggeringly they were told to check the individual territories for themselves. Territories like Switzerland and Norway it is well known that you pay advanced tax for prospective sales and claim any money back if sales do not reach what was paid for. Then we have the cabbotage scenario where Tarrant Anderson, the director of touring transport company Vans for Bands also told The Guardian they are also seeking clarity as under the current terms are allowed to make only 2 journeys before returning back to the UK. This is obviously not financially viable plus as Tarrant states many US acts use the UK as a hub due to the world-renowned touring professionals this country produces. If a solution is not found, then it is reasonable to expect US acts to relocate to France or Germany for simpler access to the EU.

 

The necessity for a deal to be agreed is absolutely critical to the UK music industry. The Government of All Talents wants to promote this Global Britain initiative so how better to promote this than agreement with the EU for our world leading Cultural Industry to be free to travel and promote the one thing we are truly recognised for. To those pathetic anonymous keyboard warriors who post why should musicians get special treatment over plumbers, electricians, etc well these trades in my view although worthy and valuable are not what people of the world are interested in but they are interested in music and the arts produced in the UK.

 

 

 

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