The chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) Deborah Annetts has expressed serious concerns that new immigration policies due to be brought into effect post-Brexit are going to seriously harm the UK music industry, and potentially damage music-making both here and in mainland Europe.
In a press release issued in response to the new regulations, Annetts claims that UK musicians will require a visa – or at least some form of advanced permission – to work, perform, teach or tour in mainland Europe.
Her concerns stem from two paragraphs in a new paper published by the government outlining its new point-based policy on immigration. According to Annetts, paragraphs 21 and 25 imply the need for performers from Europe and the UK to attain a work visa or some form of formal permission to work respectively.
The Home Office, however, denies that the new rules will change the status quo, and claims that performers can perform for six months without a visa (or longer at certain festivals? The wording is unclear) without any need for a visa or formal sponsorship.
Annetts, however, refutes the claim that musicians will be unaffected by the changes, citing the need for EU musicians to have a “letter of engagement” at the very least to be able to stay in the UK as a musician for 30 days, as well as supporting documents (e.g. bank statements).
The music industry (as a part of the creative arts) is worth £111bn to the UK economy annually, equal to the construction industry. Annetts and others have accused the Government of refusing to acknowledge the huge economic role the creative arts have to play. Annetts has said “We have been making the point very strongly that the Home Office has totally ignored this as far as we can see.” and certainly this issue over immigration as a result of Brexit would seem to fall in line with much of the ISMs’ previous warnings (see here, here, and here for just a few examples) about the consequences to the industry caused by the restriction of freedom of movement.
The ISM’s stance on the immigration issue could not be clearer: free movement for musicians. They have started the #SaveMusic campaign in response to legislation like this, which they view as directly opposing this ethos. The video below briefly explains the movement’s purpose.
With the ISM adamantly claiming that the changes will hurt the art, the industry, and the economy, and the government insisting that nothing is really changing, it seems that like there is little chance of a definitive answer to many of the questions still hanging in the air for EU and UK artists.