The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the professional body for the UK’s musicians has today, Tuesday 31 July 2018, published its Musicians and Brexit report which reveals the concerns of more than 1,600 musicians regarding freedom of movement post-Brexit.

The unique study conducted in April 2018 builds on two previous surveys of musicians and uncovers musicians’ travel habits when working in Europe and the rest of the world. The report calls for freedom of movement to be protected for musicians post-Brexit.

Headlines from the report:

More than 40% of musicians have noticed an impact on their work as a result of Brexit. (Up from 26% in 2017 and 19% in 2016).

39% of musicians travel to the EU more than five times a year. 12% travel to the EU more than 20 times a year. More than one in eight performers had less than seven days’ notice between being offered work and having to take it.

And there were warnings from the rest of the world: More than a third of musicians had experienced difficulties with visas when travelling outside the EU. In fact, of those experiencing difficulties 79% of those identified visas as the source of those difficulties.

The purely financial cost is significant, and whilst employers and engagers often cover the visa costs, 33% of musicians still spent more than £300 a year on securing visas to work (5% of musicians spent more than £1,000 a year).

But this is not just about the obvious financial costs: 15% of UK musicians have lost a job opportunity because of problems with visas.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM and founder of the cross-arts FreeMoveCreate campaign said: ‘The Government is making all the right noises at the moment and the EU White Paper recognised the importance of mobility for professional musicians and creatives who make up our £92 billion a year creative industries. However, at a time of great uncertainty, musicians need to know their jobs in Europe will be secure once Britain leaves the EU. Given how much of musicians’ work and income is dependent on travel to the EU27, and given the importance of cultural exchange in the arts, we are urging the UK Government and EU to reach an agreement on mobility for musicians and other artists post-Brexit as soon as possible.’

One musician (performer – instrumental) responding said: ‘One of my main employers (a French ensemble) has said that if they have to treat us as non EU workers we will no longer be employable as the organisation does not have the capacity (financially and in terms of office staff) to process the necessary paperwork.’

Another said: ‘I occasionally work outside the EU, Middle East and the USA but years can go by in between due to travel costs. However I work in the EU on a constant basis as travel costs are low, there is a good network of work for musicians in my genre. I’m in Germany as I type. [But] some EU clients are reluctant to commit to bookings until there is clarity into my status.’


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