UK government consider creative export office to help EU visa and permit issues
As the UK awaits Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown with bated breath and bitten nails, there's another nugget of potentially positive news for UK musicians.
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, under immense scrutiny from the creative industries, has revealed that the government are discussing setting up a government-funded export office to help reduce the impact of Brexit on UK creatives, potentially mitigating costs of visas and permits now required to perform in and tour Europe. The proposed export office will also suggest projects and initiatives to support British creatives and creative businesses pursue export opportunities and other markets.
Visa-free touring was never considered by the government during the UK/EU trade negotiations, and for an industry already on its knees due to the pandemic it was yet another kick in the teeth for artists, established or otherwise, looking to bounce back when events, gigs, and festivals are once again sanctioned. Additional costs would make touring unviable for many musicians, and would certainly damage the UK's world class music scene.
It's still unclear what kind of support the proposed export office will offer, whether it be merely advice/guidance of visas and permits, or financial assistance, but UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed the developments: "We should be doing everything we can to support and strengthen the British music industry as a key global exporter and spread British success internationally" Goodwin told the Telegraph. "The British music industry can help fly the flag for Britain globally and is a great example of the UK's soft power due to the huge influence of British music across the world."
"However, new Brexit rules have put barriers up and made it harder for British musicians to work and perform abroad. A new UK-wide export office for the music industry or the wider creative sector could play a crucial role in helping drive our post-pandemic recovery."
All in all, it could be an incredibly positive few weeks for the UK music industry and live music sector. Fingers crossed.