Brexit: Spain Waives Visa Requirement For UK Touring Artists
Klaus Vedfelt – Crossing the channel and touring Europe will be much harder for UK artists post-Brexit.
The UK government is under heavy pressure from artists and industry professional to address the existing obstacles.
UK artists touring Spain will no longer need visas for short-term engagements, following months of dedicated work from LIVE and the Association for British Orchestras (ABO), working alongside Spanish counterparts Asociación Promotores Musicales (APM).
As a result of Brexit and the subsequent trade agreements between Spain countries and the UK, touring between the two countries has become a complicated and costly issue.
As UK trade body LIVE explains, “until now, artists and their promoters have had to make applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish, provide a host of itinerary details before having even been given the green light for the tour to go ahead – including accommodation and flight allocations – and give proof of applicant earnings of up to nearly £1,000 before ever having left the country. Costs were also prohibitive, amounting to over £10,000 for an orchestra to visit Spain for up to five days.
“Touring artists and their production teams were also required to wait for over a month for a decision, making long term scheduling – vital for successful international touring – impossible.”
Which is why LIVE, ABO and APM, alongside Live Nation Espana, have been lobbying the Spanish government to change its policy. Successfully, as it turns out, at least in terms of visas, which are no longer required for shot-term engagements.
While it’s a first step in the right direction, UK artists till face restrictions touring Spain, the fifth largest live entertainment market in the world, according to LIVE. There’s still a three-stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return to home, as well as “a hugely expensive goods passport (a ‘carnet’), including a bond for instruments and equipment.”
Since Spain isn’t the only European country for which touring artists require a visa post-Brexit, challenges remain, causing what LIVE describes as “a logistical nightmare for Europe-wide tours.”
The trade body concludes, ‘live music touring is reliant on low friction barriers to entry and movement, allowing tours to move through countries seamlessly and quickly, and, as the second biggest exporter of music in the world, the sector in the UK is feeling the pinch.
“Not only does this affect the ecosystem of live music industry performers, workers, and businesses, but also for the UK economy which risks losing one of its finest exports. LIVE is calling on the Government to work with individual EU Governments to tackle the problem of visas and permits, focusing on 7 member states with the most urgent issues, including Croatia.”
Craig Stanley, chair of the LIVE Touring Group, commented, “We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish Government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications. A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve as an industry when we work together.
“However, that is still only one small part of a very large problem affecting our ability to tour in the round. We are calling on the Government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union.”
Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras, added, “The ABO is delighted the Spanish Government has introduced a visa waiver for live performance. We have already heard from member orchestras that had had to go through the painful and expensive process of securing visas for their musicians these past months, and this will be welcome news for those orchestras with impending tours. It means we can continue to bring the best of British music-making to Spain.”