Government decision to deny visa-free travel to musicians will hurt local artists

Following news that the Government rejected the offer of visa-free tours for musicians in the EU, Councillor Darryl Smalley has hit out at the damage such a decision will have on York’s local creative industry.


The Brexit trade deal, which came into force on 1 January, does not guarantee visa-free travel for creatives throughout the EU’s 27 member states. News that the UK government officials decided to make a political gesture by denying an arrangement which could have guaranteed visa-free travel for musicians will come as a blow to local artists, many of whom have not toured since March due to the COVID-19 crisis. This comes despite repeated assurances throughout last year that the government understood how important frictionless travel is for the performing arts.

The Government is now facing questions over why offer made by the EU on touring musicians was not revealed, why it was turned down and how the government proposes to remedy the plight of thousands of artists, crews and musicians whose already fragile livelihood will be still further harmed.

A petition calling for a “free cultural work permit” has reached over 250,000 signatures.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities, commented:

“This reckless decision comes as another blow to the music and arts industry, which has already suffered so much during the pandemic. It will not only damage the future prospects of our local talent but also disadvantage young aspiring musicians the most, as touring is made financially and logistically difficult for many.

"The Government’s politically-motivated decision to end free movement will damage our economy, our creativity and our standing in the world. Once Covid restrictions are lifted, York’s local artists need to be able to work across the EU with the same ability that has been negotiated for other sectors.

"Live music and arts transcend national boundaries and bring people together. Making it more expensive for our local talent to showcase its range further damages an already devastated arts and culture sector and isolates our industry.”

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