Thank you for contacting me about introducing visa-free work permits for artists and musicians.
We all know that the UK is home to a huge number of world-class performers across a range of different disciplines and I am committed to ensuring their continued international success under the agreement between the UK and EU. I have been assured that the Government fully recognises the value of the industry and supports ambitious arrangements for performers and artists to be able to work and tour across Europe.
It is my understanding that the Government did not turn down a bespoke arrangement from the EU to allow musicians to work and perform in Member States. The UK, in fact, proposed a list of permitted activities for short term business visitors that would allow musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff, to continue working throughout Europe without a visa. These proposals reflected the views of the music industry itself, developed in consultation with bodies like the Musicians Union.
Unfortunately, the EU did not support these proposals. While this is disappointing, the Government has been clear that there is still time for the EU to change its mind, and it will continue its work to make it as straightforward as possible for UK artists to travel and work in the EU.
More broadly, I was thrilled to see the support provided by the Government for the performing arts during the pandemic. The £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund is a world leading rescue package for Britain’s arts, culture and heritage industries to help weather the impact of coronavirus. I was also extremely pleased to see that venues here in Woking such as the Fiery Bird music venue and the Lightbox Art Gallery (as well as other commercial companies in the performing arts sector, based in Woking) have benefitted from the fund, keeping these key venues and enterprises afloat until audiences can return in the future.
Last year I met personally with a very wide cross-section of employers and employees in the local theatre, music and events sector; the meeting was held, appropriately, around a long set of trestle tables on an otherwise empty stage at the New Victoria Theatre. There, I heard at first-hand, and in some breadth and depth, about the issues that both individuals and companies in this hugely important cultural sector are facing. Since then I have lobbied both the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary with regard to all the key demands and requirements of the performing arts and theatre industry and all its practitioners and support staff, both locally and nationally, and I will continue to press these issues with ministerial colleagues at every opportunity.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about these important matters.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking