I have recently received campaign cards and emails from members of the Musicians’ Union asking me to support their calls for the introduction of an EU touring visa.
Lewisham Deptford is home to a huge number of talented musicians, artists and other creative people and I am very proud of that. I studied performing arts myself, so it’s a subject that’s close to my heart.
At the 2017 General Election, our Labour Party manifesto committed to putting the creative sector at the centre of the Brexit negotiations and our future industrial strategy. It is vital we get the right deal on these issues to ensure our creative industries are not restricted because of our departure from the EU.
As you may know, current EU free movement rules enable EU artists to undertake tours in the EU and to travel for one-off or short-term engagements, without the need to obtain a visa. The arrangements for British nationals wishing to travel to and work within the EU in the future – and EU citizens wishing to do so in the UK – will depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. I have consistently said that the UK Government must adopt an approach to Brexit that protects jobs, trade and the economy.
When pressed on this issue in the House of Commons the Government said they will set out immigration proposals later this year and that various aspects including the creative sector will be taken into account.
I am concerned that the Government’s lack of clarity is affecting the music industry and delaying investment opportunities and long-term planning.
Our music industry leads the world, breaking through language and cultural barriers and I agree it is important to ensure that musicians’ rights and their ability to tour are protected after we leave the EU.
I hope that the Government will consider the points raised by the Musicians’ Union very carefully and respond to the concerns of its members. The next opportunity for this to happen will be a debate in the House of Lords on the arts and Brexit called by my colleague Lord Bragg, which is due to take place on Thursday 11th October.