The UK Prime Minister has been urged to find a way for UK musicians to freely tour the European Union or the industry faces ruin.
In an open letter to Boris Johnson leading music industry figures and concert hauliers have joined forces to urge the Prime Minister to secure a ‘cultural easement’ to allow UK firms to continue taking tours across the EU, warning that the industry faces ruin in the wake of the pandemic and new post-Brexit trade restrictions.
In the letter the group said “unworkable” new cabotage and cross trade rules which only allow British-registered trucks three stops in Europe before having to return to the UK will stop the delivery of European concert tours and other musical performances.
Road Haulage Association Chief Executive Richard Burnett said: “If the UK events haulage industry is to have any chance of survival it needs an EU-wide easement so that trucks moving touring equipment can continue to make multiple stops across Europe.”
Mark Pemberton, representing the Association of British Orchestras, added: “The limits on cabotage have the potential to kill orchestral touring. A typical tour might involve multiple concerts in one country, followed by concerts in another, meaning a limit of two laden journeys within the EU makes using a UK-registered vehicle impossible. But with orchestras often using their own trucks, kitted out at vast expense to protect fragile and high-value instruments, with humidity and temperature controls, it simply isn’t an option to use an EU-based commercial haulier either. Without an exemption from these cabotage limits, it is hard to see how the UK’s world-leading orchestras can continue to perform at Europe’s major concert halls and festivals.”
Colin Greenwood, bassist with British rock band Radiohead warned the future of many bands was at stake.
“The new bureaucracy could threaten the livelihoods of thousands of British citizens who make the UK events industry a success story,” he added. “Live music is a vital part of our country’s economy. It’s important that Government offers support by helping haulage operators deal with the new documentation following Brexit, including the new European driving permits, new customs permits that they’re going to need, and all the new red tape.”
The letter’s signatories said: “Following the pandemic there will be high demand for events including exhibitions, festivals, concerts and live music – but this will only be possible if specialist hauliers exist across the continent.
“A ‘Cultural Easement’ would allow them to continue undertaking EU-wide movements for concert and event industries.”
“Without specialist concert and events trucks, hundreds of suppliers employing thousands of skilled crews will be unable to provide their services around Europe on music tours undertaken by UK and international musicians.
“The Government’s immediate support will ensure that the UK retains its ability to service this industry in the future and help to save thousands of jobs and livelihoods in the process.”
The signatories also called for short-term financial support for concert hauliers, and a “last resort” grants option for firms to set up bridgehead operations in the EU until easements are agreed.
It added the events industry contributes £70 billion a year to the UK economy.