Brexit threatens “talent pipeline” for new artists, UK Government warned

The UK Government has been warned that Brexit is threatening a “talent pipeline” for new artists.

At the end of the UK government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry earlier this week, Welsh Labour MP Kevin Brennan asked Parklife festival founder Sacha Lord, and Anna Wade, a director from Boomtown Fair, about the impact of Brexit on their respective festivals.

Lord, who is also the Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, told Brennan that while visa problems may not be an issue for bigger, established headliners, it will crush a vital platform which festivals offer to up and coming talent.

“When you stand at Parklife and look at the headliner, that headliner has not become a star overnight,” Lord said. “They’ve started from grassroots and grassroots venues. So if you look at a six-piece band now, to bring them into Parklife you’re probably looking at £1,800 in visa fees, which for smaller bands which are just breaking is not viable.”

It had been hoped the final UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve 2020 (just days before new regulations came into place on 1st January 2021), would include special consideration for touring professionals — including free, longterm working travel arrangements for artists and crew. As it stands, the current deal imposes new regulations, tariffs and visa requirements that will make such tours far more expensive and complicated. It raises further fears over what this fresh blow could mean for the recovery of a UK music industry, which was worth £5.2billion before the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. 

While Wade admitted that Boomtown Fair was a permit-free festival, she told Brennan that her worries were “for that talent pipeline, the venues in the UK, and the festivals, if we don’t have places for these people to craft and hone their talent then the pipeline will just dry up.”

A petition has been launched demanding the UK Government negotiates a new Visa-free cultural work permit for touring professionals and artists, which has already garnered more than 220,000 signatures. DJ Mag has been covering what Brexit could mean for music on an ongoing basis. Read up on advice for European DJs playing British dates, our take on British DJs playing European dates, then dive into official UK guidance for artists touring the EU

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