The UK government’s GREAT Britain international marketing campaign celebrates its 10th birthday this September. The campaign showcases all that Global Britain has to offer the world, including as a global leader in creative industries such as music, fashion, design and film.
In 2019, the UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy. Employment hit an all-time high of 197,168. The total export revenue was £2.9 billion. In addition to the industry’s direct economic contribution, music tourism alone contributed £4.7 billion in terms of spending in the UK economy. (Source: UK Music)
The Conservative Party 2019 manifesto pledged to build a Britain in which “everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their talents.” So why does the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, lauded as a GREAT success by our Prime Minister on the night before Christmas, fail to include an EU-wide cultural work permit and visa-free travel for touring professionals and artists?
Slogans are deceptive and deride the practicalities. This is a huge non-tariff barrier to trade that will have a catastrophic effect across all touring art forms, as they desperately try to recover from the impact of the pandemic. These are real people with real lives and real jobs. Musicians have already lost work, or are going to lose work as the pandemic eases and live performances can resume. Some musicians are thinking of giving up altogether.
The impact is huge across the whole of the British performing arts sector, disproportionately but not exclusively harming the freelance community, the small and medium sized companies, their support crews, the road haulage sector - and all of us if we lose access to existing and future creative talent.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Fortunately, our GREAT musicians are refusing to acquiesce to things that are unworkable. Their impressive Carry on Touring campaign cuts across culture wars and is non-partisan. It is not about point scoring, it is about coming together across the political divide and Brexit divisions. The EU has expressed a willingness to come up with a solution - all it takes is some flexibility by the government.
Action not words is needed here. How would you feel if you arrived at a gig and were told the act you had come to see, while straining every sinew, were unable to come on stage as they were still ploughing through the paperwork?
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has already organised formal non-inquiry sessions on EU visa arrangements for creative workers. I understand an invitation for 10 June 2021 has also been extended to Cabinet Office Minister and the Rt Hon Lord Frost CMG, who is responsible for oversight of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
In the meantime, you can support the Carry on Touring campaign by signing their petition, adding your organisation’s name to their open letter to Lord Frost, tweeting and joining the campaign mailing list .
Make some noise to keep the GREAT British creative sector on the road!
London4Europe blogs are edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.