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Some bands bypass the UK due to Brexit.

This summer marks the return of music festivals to the United Kingdom following years of cancellations due to COVID; however, after Britain’s exit from the European Union, those connected with British events are confronting hurdles and requesting assistance.

It has been three years since the United Kingdom last had a complete festival schedule, with local lineups and the likes of Glastonbury and Download.

But now that the COVID limits have been lifted and the summer is jam-packed with events, industry figures are confronting new issues, which they foresaw in 2019.

Some bands bypass the uk due to brexit.

Adam Gregory, one of the directors of the award-winning British rock and metal festival Bloodstock, explains, “Our festival was developing organically, and everything was going fantastic.” “There were no significant obstacles that would prevent a festival from becoming successful.

Some bands bypass the uk due to brexit.
Some bands bypass the uk due to brexit.

The moment Brexit occurred every barrier in the world rose overnight.

Post-Brexit, it is more difficult to organize and perform at festivals, a sentiment mirrored throughout the music industry, from superstars like Elton John to lesser-known artists and those working behind the scenes.

And while the philosophical fight over leaving the EU has been fought and won, those involved in the industry now want to address practical issues.

A minimum of £600 must be spent on a carnet, an international customs document, for bands of any size to travel between the United Kingdom and the European Union with their equipment.

In addition to increased expenses and paperwork for British musicians wishing to cross the Channel, EU acts wishing to perform at UK festivals face the same obstacles.

Even acts traveling in from the United States for the European festival season must weigh the benefits of adding a British event to their itinerary.

Some bands bypass the uk due to brexit.

According to Mr. Gregory, several well-known musicians have avoided the United Kingdom because of the headache. “They simply cannot be bothered.

“I’m not saying it’s a large number, but it just takes one or two to get the ball rolling, and suddenly the United Kingdom is one of those countries that is never added to the program.”

“Bands are avoiding the United Kingdom.”

Alex Davies-Jones, a Labour MP who has been working with festival directors on the difficulties they face, shares his concerns.

“If someone is on a European tour, they would generally stop in the United Kingdom, bring all their equipment, perform at one of these festivals, and then continue to their next location,” she explains.

“This cannot occur today. They are avoiding the United Kingdom due to its complexity. Different restrictions, regulations, and excessive red tape prohibit us from having world-renowned bands at our festivals and from discovering new wonderful music.”

Justine Jones, the lead singer of the British band Employed to Serve, states that the extra paperwork increases the amount of money they must spend to travel to festivals on the continent, and she is aware that European peers face the same obstacles to attending our calendar-defining events.

“Bands are required to obtain carnets listing every single instrument, string pack, battery pack, and more, along with the manufacturer and serial number,” she explained.

“We had to hire a professional business for this service, which cost us approximately £1,000.

And the carnets only last a year and cover a limited number of border crossings, so if we exceed that, we must purchase a new one.

We are not the only ones canceling performances.

However, planning is not the only costly and time-consuming nightmare.

“When bands leave, they must join the truckers in the lines, so even when it’s not as chaotic as it has been recently at Dover, we can wait for hours,” adds Ms. Jones.

“These people have lorries of stuff, like for Ikea or something, but we merely have a small van full of equipment. However, we must still stand in line with them, and they must physically examine every item we possess.”

It is the same with air travel, and the additional hoops passengers must jump through can frequently confuse.

Ms. Jones explains, “We had to cancel our performance at the Resistance Festival in Spain because an airline lost our equipment.” “And we are certainly not alone. It has occurred to those traveling to the UK to perform.”

Alan Hungerford, whose company, Freight Minds, provides logistical and freight support for touring acts such as Queen, Adele, and Gorillaz, reveals how post-Brexit conditions have changed for his clients.

“Let’s suppose you’re performing at a festival in Portugal on a Saturday; it’s suddenly extremely difficult to fly a charter jet into the United Kingdom on a Sunday for another festival,” he explains.

“Previously, performers would fly directly to the concert, load in, take the stage, and then go. Now you’re wasting hours – I can say realistically 12 hours for customs clearance combined – which can have a knock-on effect on events, causing musicians to book fewer performances.

“It used to be possible to travel overnight from Belgium to the United Kingdom. Now you must consider the circumstances at Dover and ask yourself, “Are we going to make it to that festival?”

Hungerford stated that the worries affect all bands, big and small and that the rules remain unclear.

Hungerford adds, “British customs officials do not appear to have been properly taught on how to process carnets.”

There has been no government assistance or clear direction as to whether a carnet is required.

Jobs, jobs, jobs?

Not only the travel of equipment and its owners are generating challenges for events in the wake of Brexit.

Ms. Davies-Jones reports that organizers of regional and massive events, including Glastonbury, told her that staffing was their primary concern.

“Part of it is due to COVID,” she explains. “As a result of the demise of the music industry, many individuals were forced to seek employment elsewhere.

So skilled personnel, such as riggers, lighting engineers, sound engineers, and technicians with experience putting all of this together, have left the industry, resulting in a loss of expertise at the upper end of the spectrum.

However, not only the technical team makes a festival possible.

“Personnel required for the day-to-day operation of an event, setting up, cleaners, and security personnel were arriving from Europe,” she explains. They simply are not there yet.

Hungerford concurs that staffing has affected the industry, stating: “A few weeks ago, I was at an event in Sunderland where we expected 52 crew members for the night shift to tear down the stage. Only six were present.

“Everyone was required to work four times harder to complete a task. It took two extra days than it should have.”

According to Mr. Gregory, many of his fellow festival organizers have been forced to postpone events due to a lack of employees.

“The combination of COVID and Brexit has resulted in the loss of many employees in the music and entertainment industries,” he explains.

The festival director adds that it has been a “really scary, very stressful period” and that the termination of seasonal employees coming over to work summer events has been “extremely hard work unnecessarily for an industry that contributes billions of pounds to the economy every year.”

Festivals require assistance now, not in two years.

So, what could be done to assist people involved in festivals to ensure that the British festival industry thrives not only this summer but also in future summers?

Mr. Gregory thinks that the arts and entertainment business must address the issue of freedom of movement without question.

“There is a great deal of lobbying aimed at gaining support, but it appears to be falling on deaf ears. Currently, the government is providing little more than lip service to the issue.

“The industry needs aid immediately. Not in a year or two, but immediately, it requires that assistance.”

Ms. Davies-Jones also argues that a seasonal worker program should be implemented so that festivals can continue to import employees from the EU.

“Currently, all of our festivals and events, as well as our leisure sectors, are failing,” she continues.

“Our cultural activities are all afflicted by the same issue: a lack of qualified applicants for positions that locals are unwilling to perform.

“Without the program, the United Kingdom will suffer. We are renowned for our celebrations. We are renowned for our cultural and musical exports. And this great soft power is now in jeopardy.”

For Ms. Jones, the issue is more personal: “The epidemic revealed how much people relied on music to help them get through such a difficult time,” she says.

“Now that everything has “returned to normal,” it has all been forgotten and taken for granted.

“The festival and music industries contribute billions to the British economy.

It would be a great shame if folks like them were not heard at festivals.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport responded to our concerns and requests as follows: “We are assisting the brilliant musicians of the United Kingdom to adapt to the new touring arrangements and have made the case to every EU member state about the significance of touring.

“Twenty-four EU Member States, including the largest touring markets such as Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, have indicated that they offer visa- and work permit-free pathways for British artists and other creative professions.

“We are continuing dialogue with the few remaining nations that do not grant visa-free travel or work permits.”


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