Orchestras fear updated touring provisions unworkable

a woman plays in an orchestra
10 May 2022

Dual registration for hauliers will offer visa-free touring for some, but problems persist for smaller-scale tours and orchestras with specialist equipment.

Jazz venues 'hanging by a thread'

a jazz band plays to an audience
21 Apr 2022

An absence of ringfenced funding for grassroots venues and promoters will likely lead to further closures, musicians say.

Trucking stopgap to save UK tour legs

20 Apr 2022

The temporary allowance will ease post-Brexit restrictions on touring, DfT says, but a better long-term solution remains elusive.

Music venues take cut of merch sales

19 Apr 2022

Academy Music Group (AMG) venues are taking a 25% cut from merchandise sales at live events, according to an investigation by The Guardian.

An undisclosed amount then goes to Universal Music Group (UMG), owners of the world’s three largest record labels, even if the artist in question is not signed to UMG.

In March, post-punk band Dry Cleaning hosted a pop-up merch store away from their gig at London’s O2 Forum, owned by AMG, to retain their profits.

“We probably sold the same number of units, but as we were able to retain 25% it worked out better for us financially,” Band Manager Helena Watmuff said.

Over 380 venues nationwide are included in the Featured Artists Coalition's (FAC) 100% Venues directory, a public database of venues that charge zero commission on artists' merchandise sales.

FAC CEO David Martin said these venues are making selling merchandise at gigs worthwile for artists: “[This creates] a fairer and more sustainable touring circuit, particularly for grassroots and emerging talent.”

Brexit scuppers British Phantom run

07 Apr 2022

A decision to replace a British production of Phantom of the Opera with a Chinese one "speaks volumes about the impact of the Government’s approach to supporting touring creatives".

The statement from DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight comes after Jessica Koravos, President of the Really Useful Group, told MPs it was "more straightforward and less expensive" to tour the Chinese show in the EU.

Knight said this exemplifies the damage done to arts touring by Brexit.

"The mask has well and truly slipped on the true extent of the problems faced by the UK arts sector.

"The current EU visa arrangements are proving economically disastrous for our cultural industries by forcing them to play second fiddle to their international competitors, while having a hugely detrimental effect on the ability of the UK to exercise soft power by promoting Britain abroad post-Brexit.”

UK tours in EU ‘too expensive’

31 Mar 2022

Theatre company Really Useful Group has brought in a production of The Phantom of the Opera from China to tour the EU, because Brexit red tape made it “too expensive” to use a British one, a DCMS Committee has heard.

Really Useful Group promotes Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows around the world. Its president, Jessica Koravos, told the committee she “would not dream of sending a UK production into Europe” under current circumstances.

She said it was “more straightforward and less expensive” to bring in a production from China 5,000 miles away.

The comment formed part of a DCMS Committee session on promoting Britain abroad, held earlier this week.

DCMS Chair Julian Knight said the situation “means that the mask has well and truly slipped on the true extent of the problems faced by the UK arts sector”.

“That one of the all-time great British musical impresarios would not now dream of taking a production rich in West End heritage into the EU from Britain speaks volumes about the impact of the government’s approach to supporting touring creatives.

“The current EU visa arrangements are proving economically disastrous for our cultural industries by forcing them to play second fiddle to their international competitors.”

Touring musicians fund offers £250k

30 Mar 2022

A £250,000 fund aimed at supporting touring musicians has been opened by Help Musicians.

Musicians can apply for grants up to £5,000 to put towards touring expenses and international administration fees such as visas.

The music charity is also funding broader access to immigration and visa specialists Viva La Visa, offering musicians 30 minutes of free telephone advice on the bureaucratic requirements of touring in Europe.

Help Musicians says it will support the advice service, previously available to Incorporated Society of Musicians and The Musicians’ Union members, for the next 18 months.

“My plea to the government is to use the 18 months of cover that this service provides to negotiate and put in place all that is needed to ensure friction-free touring for musicians in the EU,” Chief Executive James Ainscough said.

Taking art to rural Europe

Magnitudini by Michela Paolini
01 Mar 2022

A unique organisation that works in the rural communities of Somerset has expanded its horizons to Europe. Ralph Lister shares the story.

Touring exhibitions need local focus

21 Feb 2022

Amid Covid, Brexit and climate change, new touring models that prioritise collaboration with communities and other institutions provide a way forward, funders say.

Cabotage limits cost orchestras thousands

an orchestra rehearses in an auditorium
08 Feb 2022

Industry experts say the Government must adapt its plans for overseas touring this summer amidst a shortage of haulage trucks.

Keir Starmer: Government is 'attacking' British creativity

03 Feb 2022

Labour Leader promises action on EU touring if elected and says the creative industries deserve more "respect".

What are the rules for performing artists coming to the UK?

photo of band playing a concert to an audience
07 Dec 2021

One year on, artists are still struggling with the legal complexities around performance in the UK. Gary McIndoe explains the details.

Cross-party MPs launch inquiry into EU touring barriers

03 Nov 2021

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Music will hold a cross-party inquiry into the barriers and delays facing musicians touring in the European Union.

The announcement follows a letter to Boris Johnson, signed by APPG on Music Chair David Warbuton, demanding "urgent action" to address ongoing barriers.

The letter highlights the "lack of clarity" musicians looking to tour the EU are facing in the wake of recent DCMS annoucements.

"We need the Government to ramp up negotiations with nations like Spain where costly visas are still in place and to look for swift solutions to both the visa and transport issues facing musicians and crew," Conservative MP Warbuton said.

The APPG on Music will kick off its inqury with a first evidence session later this month.

The inquiry will focus on visas and work permits, carnets and instrument manufacturing materials, transport issues, the effect on the UK music industry, the effect on emerging artists and potential solutions. 

"This is a hugely welcome move by MPs from across the political divide," UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said.

UK strikes visa-free touring deal with Romania

12 Oct 2021

Romania has been added to the list of EU countries that UK performers can tour in sans visa.

As has become customary, DCMS concealed the actual size of the achievement, updating an August announcement to say visa-free touring is possible in 20 EU countries.

In fact, arrangements were already in place with 19 of those countries two months ago. Talks with Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus are ongoing - and in some cases have been since the UK left the EU.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) said Tuesday's announcement gave "a misleading impression about the extent to which work in these countries will now be possible".

It called on Government to clarify what kinds of work are allowed for how long in each of the 20 countries.

DCMS says: "Discussions with these countries are ongoing, and we are also working with the sector to amplify each other’s lobbying efforts."

'Splitter vans' permitted for EU touring artists, DfT says

29 Sep 2021

British musicians touring the EU can now travel in the same vehicle as their equipment.

The Department of Transport has confirmed that so-called 'splitter vans' do not fall under the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), meaning individual EU states make their own rules.

The Musicians' Union (MU) and Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which have been lobbying for this arrangement, are delighted.

The TCA said people and equipment could not be transported in the same vehicle - "a disaster for touring musicians, particularly at grassroots level", the MU says.

National Organiser for Live Performance Dave Webster, said this is a relief and "a major step forward".

“A ban on splitter vans would have made European touring almost impossible for small to medium scale bands, especially given the costs of carnets, visas, work permits and Covid testing they are already bearing."

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said a visa waiver agreement is needed to remove the red tape.

"It’s great that on this occasion the industries’ campaigning work has paid off, but there is much more the Government should be doing."

Birmingham to open first city centre music venue in a decade

31 Aug 2021

Birmingham is set to open its first music venue and club in the city centre for over a decade.

Forum Birmingham, featuring a 3,500 capacity main stage and 350 capacity "rave box", will open its doors on September 3.

The venue has previously been known as The Ballroom, the Hummingbird and the Carling Academy Birmingham.

It has offered 1,000 NHS and key workers free entry for events scheduled as part of its autumn/winter programme.

Global Venues’ Billy Chauhan, a manager of the venue, said Forum Birmingham “looks forward to welcoming major events and contributing to valuable regional and national music tourism”.

Scottish Government pushes for EU visa-free touring

31 Aug 2021

Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has urged the UK Government to negotiate visa-free travel for the creative industry by the end of the year.

In a letter addressed to Oliver Dowden, Robertson calls for cooperation between the two Governments to “minimise barriers to recovery”.

He adds that touring visas and work permits are creating “insurmountable obstacles” for artists.

“Ultimately this could jeopardise the ability of some to continue working in the sector altogether”.

The letter follows a UK Government announcement that 19 EU countries have agreed to short term visa-free tours, an update condemned by music industry leaders as “nothing new”.

Brexit Minister offers few answers, defends record on EU touring issues

30 Jun 2021

DCMS had to wait for a green light from Lord Frost to begin bilateral negotiations on touring, few of which have been agreed in the six months post-Brexit.

'Major flaws' in ministers' post-Brexit touring claims

19 May 2021

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says "some paid touring" is possible in 17 of 27 EU member states as renewed campaigns for a bloc-level deal seek legal advice.

Can we any longer justify our carbon footprint?

A person lying in a tree using a megaphone
11 May 2021

After a lifetime spent working in the arts across the world, Judith Knight considers the dilemma of meeting the demands of the climate emergency while retaining international collaborations.


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