Thank you to everyone who has contacted me over the last few months about visa arrangements for creative professionals following Brexit. I share your concerns about this important issue.
Throughout the Brexit negotiations, I consistently supported calls for UK musicians and performers to be able to continue operating within the EU without unnecessary delays and bureaucracy.
British creative workers were promised by the UK Government that freedom to travel to and perform in the EU without being subject to unnecessary red tape after 1 January 2021 would be protected. However, the post-Brexit travel rules now in force do not guarantee visa-free travel for creative professionals and British workers have been left disadvantaged as a result.
Unfortunately, I fear many younger, newer UK acts will now be prevented from touring. International touring is an essential part of creative workers’ livelihoods, and a vital stepping-stone for emerging artists. I also believe that the loss of earning opportunities is a real kick in the teeth for workers in the creative sector, many of whom have fallen through the cracks in the economic support schemes available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you know, the impact is immediate for thousands of UK musicians, actors, dancers, opera performers, theatre directors, designers, and many other professionals in both the live performance and audiovisual industries. I am also concerned that European acts will be prevented from touring here – hitting our local high street venues when they need it most.
The UK Government insists it made sensible proposals to allow creative professionals to travel and perform in both the UK and EU, without needing work permits. It says the EU rejected these proposals. The UK Government has, however, suggested further discussion is possible, and has created a new working group on the subject with industry members.
I believe Ministers must now clarify exactly what the proposal is from the UK to resolve this situation. The inability to tour reduces not only our artists’ opportunity to work and earn abroad, but also chances to promote our artistic values and achievement.
My Labour colleagues and I will continue to support efforts to ensure this issue is resolved as a matter of urgency.