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Brexit minister denies responsibility to solve musician touring crisis

Lord Frost has said that it is up to "the department for digital, culture, music and sport to take it forward with our embassies”

The UK government's minister for Brexit, Lord David Frost, has said that it is not his responsibility to solve the touring crisis faced by musicians in the wake of Brexit.

In a recent select committee hearing with ministers, despite UK prime minister Boris Johnson confirming that Lord Frost would "fix" the current EU touring crisis, the MP told peers that it was up to "the department for digital, culture, music and sport to take it forward with our embassies" and that the UK “took a decision to end free movement" that inevitably "brings big change”.

It had been hoped the final UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve 2020 (just days before new regulations came into place on 1st January 2021), would include special consideration for touring professionals — including free, longterm working travel arrangements for artists and crew. Back in January, the UK government denied claims that it rejected a deal offer from the EU that would allow musicians to enter countries that belong to the union without a visa following the completion of Brexit. 

As it stands, the current deal imposes new regulations, tariffs and visa requirements that will make touring far more expensive and complicated. It raises further fears over what this fresh blow could mean for the recovery of a UK music industry, which was worth £5.2billion before the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last month, UK Music carried out a poll following a range of complaints across the music and events sector about extra costs and paperwork that are expected to arise as clubs and gig venues begin to reopen across Europe following closures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2,080 people were questioned on their views as part of the poll, which was carried out earlier in June. 58% of those polled agreed that “the government should be doing more to ensure musicians can work abroad post-Brexit”, and only 7% disagreed with the statement.

DJ Mag has been covering what Brexit could mean for music on an ongoing basis. Read up on advice for European DJs playing British dates and our take on British DJs playing European dates, then dive into official UK guidance for artists touring the EU.