In a move that has stirred a deep sense of betrayal among members of the music industry, it has been revealed that the UK may well have rejected a deal to allow British artists to tour EU countries without a work visa, which, especially given the hit that the touring industry has taken with the COVID-19 pandemic, could prove disastrous for many popular musicians.
Thom Yorke at Rome Film Fest 2020 / Photo Credit: Mondadori Portfolio/SIPA USA/PA Images
Apparently, the government claimed that, despite pushing for a more “ambitious agreement which would have covered musicians”, their proposals were rejected by the EU. But that’s not at all what the EU are saying…
“It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians”, an anonymous EU source told The Independent. “We tried to include it, but the UK said no.”
“The UK refused to agree because they said they were ending freedom of movement”, they added. “It is untrue to say they asked for something more ambitious.”
In fact, even the US and Saudi Arabia have a standard deal with the EU to allow artists in those countries to tour without permits.
Naturally, musicians and other artists have responded to this news with absolute outrage on social media.
Wow. Spineless fucks. Wow…. https://t.co/GrjYbRwtxT
— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) January 9, 2021
Rina Sawayama, whose debut album made our top ten albums of 2020, branded the decision “devastating, pointless [and] mean-spirited” while Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award winner Nitin Sawhney CBE accused the UK government of xenophobia.
“Why the hell is this government so keen on destroying the music industry???” He wrote on Twitter. “They give no money to struggling artists (none of the £1.7 billion was for artists themselves) and then this after lockdown robs musicians of live performance income. Why??”
Meanwhile, The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess tagged politicians Oliver Dowden, Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson in a Tweet reading: “I think we are owed an explanation.”
Rock band Garbage featuring Scottish singer Shirley Manson weighed in, calling the situation a “scandalous disaster for already beleaguered musicians”, but it was Radiohead’s Thom Yorke that got straight to the point.
“Wow. Spineless f***s. Wow…” He said, in a now widely-circulated Tweet.
Musicians have also been showing their concern for the visa issue by signing and sharing an official petition to allow artists to tour Europe on a visa-free work permit. It’s already received more than 200,000 signatures ahead of its June 22nd deadline, but that doesn’t mean that the issue will necessarily be up for debate in parliament.
Sign the petition here.