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Government should pay additional Brexit costs for musicians in no-deal scenario, says industry body

When musicians were moved around during the rehearsal, the viola players sat directly in front of the trumpet section. Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock
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Musicians are calling on the government to cover any additional costs incurred when travelling to the EU for work in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A no-deal scenario would cause chaos for musicians travelling to the EU for work, according to professional membership body the Incorporated Society of Musicians. This could be particularly acute for musicians travelling at short notice or touring to several countries, both of which are regular occurrences within theatre, opera and dance.

The body has estimated that an individual could be faced with costs of up to £1,000 when taking an instrument into the EU or the European Economic Area because they would have to purchase carnets – temporary customs documents to allow instruments and sound equipment to move out of the UK.

Musicians could also face additional costs such as private medical insurance – European Health Insurance Card provision would end – and musical instrument certificates, which would be required for equipment containing endangered species such as rosewood or tortoiseshell.

If visas are introduced, this would also have a “considerable financial and administrative burden” on musicians, the ISM said.

It is now arguing that the government should cover these costs if no deal is in place when the UK leaves the EU, claiming the low wages earned by freelance and touring musicians means they will be among the hardest hit if there are no transitional arrangements agreed.

ISM president Jeremy Huw Williams said: “We call on the government to fully cover these costs in advance of October 31, or at the very least provide a full compensation scheme to support musicians in the first three years following Brexit.”

The body’s chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said the average annual pay packet of a freelance musician – £20,000 – means most would “simply be unable to allocate up to 5% of their earnings to additional costs” in a no-deal scenario.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “Preparations for leaving the EU, under all circumstances, are now the priority of all government departments including DCMS.

“We recognise the importance of mobility and the temporary movement of goods for major events, tours and productions, and we continue to engage closely with the music industry to ensure impacts are understood and plans in place for when we leave the EU.”

Campaign calls for musicians to keep freedom of movement post Brexit

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