The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166577   Message #4009088
Posted By: Howard Jones
16-Sep-19 - 09:30 AM
Thread Name: Brexit and music
Subject: RE: Brexit and music
I'm not going to get into a debate about the wisdom or otherwise of the Brexit decision because we don't want this thread to degenerate into another heated and ultimately pointless discussion about politics. This is about the practical effects on music and musicians.

When "this man"'s livelihood and that of thousands of others is put in jeopardy then he's entitled to complain about it. The difficulties of touring in the USA are well-known, and mean that for many it is not feasible. The USA is perhaps particularly difficult, but most countries (including the UK) have visa and tax requirements which apart from the fees may require professional help to obtain. When even a well-known artist faces such difficulties, how can the rest of us expect to manage? Most folk acts don't command very large fees to begin with, and for many it will become uneconomical.

There is no reason at present to believe that performing in the EU post-Brexit will be any different. On the contrary, all the guidance from the UK government and the Musicians Union suggests otherwise.

Let's not get into whether the country will be better or worse off after Brexit, after all opinions are deeply divided and sincerely held on both sides. Not all of the consequences of Brexit can be foreseen. This one can, because the systems are already in place and already apply to artists from outside the EU, and after Brexit they will apply to musicians from the UK as well. So far as I can make out, each EU country sets its own visa requirements. Freedom of movement within the EU applies only to EU citizens.

Of course, a lot of lesser-known musicians are able to get away with entering on a tourist visa. This may be fairly easy if you can get away with carrying just a guitar or fiddle, but bringing in a van full of gear and merchandise is likely to attract attention. If you get caught, then apart from being deported future visits (whether to perform or as a tourist) may be put in jeopardy. For professionals who work in Europe, and for part-time musicians with "proper jobs" (a lot of folk musicians) who have to travel for work purposes it could put their careers in jeopardy.

I say again, none of this is accidental or an unintended consequence. More control over working and trading with the EU was precisely the reason people wanted Brexit. Did you really think this would only work one-way and that similar controls would not apply in reverse?

So far this discussion has been mainly about the problems UK musicians will face if they want to perform in the EU. Let's not forget the UK already has its own requirements for rest-of-world musicians visiting the UK. In future these rules will apply to those coming from the EU. This is not just paperwork and it cannot be assumed a visa will be granted, for example artists due to perform at WOMAD have had visas refused. We can expect to see fewer visits from overseas musicians and less opportunity for international collaboration, in all genres. This can only impoverish us culturally, regardless of the economic consequences.