‘Each barrier on this planet went up in a single day’: Some bands are skipping the UK due to Brexit | Politics Information


It has been three years for the reason that UK final loved a full fixture of festivals – from native line-ups to the likes of Glastonbury and Obtain.

However whereas the COVID restrictions have light away and the summer season is rammed with occasions, business figures are dealing with contemporary challenges – and ones they predicted again in 2019.

“Our pageant was organically rising, you recognize, every thing was working nice,” says Adam Gregory, one of many administrators of award-winning British rock and metallic pageant Bloodstock. “There was no actual massive blockades that lets say would cease a pageant from being profitable.

“Then Brexit got here alongside, and actually each barrier on this planet went up in a single day.”

It’s a sentiment echoed throughout the music enterprise, whether or not it’s from famend acts like Elton John to smaller bands and people working behind the scenes, that festivals are more durable to placed on and play post-Brexit.

And whereas the philosophical argument over leaving the EU has been fought and gained, there at the moment are sensible issues these concerned with the business need to be addressed.

One of many foremost points is bands of all sizes now want a carnet – a world customs doc – to be allowed to go between the UK and EU with all their tools, costing a minimal of £600.

In addition to growing prices and paperwork for British bands eager to journey throughout the Channel, EU bands wanting to come back and play UK festivals face the identical obstacles.

And even acts flying in from the US for the European pageant season have to think about whether or not it’s value including a British occasion to their schedule.

“Some bands that we all know have really not come to the UK due to the headache,” says Mr Gregory. “They only cannot be bothered with it.

“I am not saying that it’s a super quantity, however you solely want one or two to start out that momentum going and impulsively the UK turns into a type of nations that simply is not added to the schedule.”

Labour MP Alex Davies Jones
Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones has been travelling to and talking with pageant organisers about Brexit

‘Bands are skipping the UK’

Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones, who has been working with the pageant administrators on the problems they’re dealing with, echoes his fears.

“If any person’s on a European tour, usually they might have used the UK as a stop-off, convey all their tools, convey their set, do one among these festivals after which head off on to their subsequent vacation spot,” she says.

“That may’t occur now. They’re skipping the UK as a result of it is simply too sophisticated. It is completely different guidelines, completely different laws, an excessive amount of pink tape and it is stopping us from having these world well-known acts at our festivals and from discovering new unbelievable music.”

Justine Jones, lead singer of British band Employed to Serve, says the brand new paperwork ramps up how a lot they should spend to journey to festivals on the continent, and she or he is aware of European counterparts dealing with the identical to come back right here for our calendar defining occasions.

“Bands should get carnets to actually record each single instrument, pack of strings, battery packs and extra, with the make and with the serial numbers,” she stated.

“We needed to pay knowledgeable firm to do this and that price us just below £1,000.

“And the carnets solely final a 12 months, in addition to solely overlaying a specific amount of crossings, so if we go over that, we have now to purchase a complete new one.”

Justine Jones performing with Employed to Serve
Justine Jones says bands throughout the UK and Europe are dealing with points post-Brexit. Pic: Felix Baron

‘We aren’t the one ones cancelling exhibits’

However it is not simply the preparation that could be a pricey and time-consuming nightmare.

“When bands head out, they’ve to hitch the queues with the truckers so, even when it is not the chaos we have lately seen at Dover, we could be ready hours,” says Ms Jones.

“Clearly these folks have gotten lorries of products, say for Ikea or one thing, and we have solely acquired a bit of van’s value of substances. However we nonetheless have to attend within the queue with them they usually should actually undergo each single merchandise we have now.”

It’s the identical with air journey too, and the added hoops they should soar by way of can typically result in confusion.

“We needed to cancel our look at Resistance Competition in Spain as a result of an airline misplaced our tools,” says Ms Jones. “And we aren’t the one ones. It has occurred to folks coming to play within the UK.”

Alan Hungerford, whose firm, Freight Minds, gives touring logistical and freight help to artists comparable to Queen, Adele and Gorillaz, describes how completely different it’s for his purchasers post-Brexit.

“To illustrate, you are doing a pageant in Portugal on Saturday, to fly a constitution jet into the UK on a Sunday for one more pageant is now extremely onerous work,” he says.

“These exhibits was once fly straight in, straight to the present, load in, go on stage, come off and go once more. Now you are you are dropping hours – I can say realistically 12 hours for customs clearance mixed – which may clearly have a knock-on impact on exhibits, which suggests artists are having to guide much less exhibits.

“You used to have the ability to go Belgium to the UK in a single day. Now you have acquired to consider it, have a look at the state of affairs at Dover and say ‘Are we going to make it to that pageant’?”

Hungerford stated the considerations have an effect on all bands, massive and small, and there may be nonetheless an absence of readability across the guidelines.

“British customs workers do not appear to have been educated correctly on easy methods to course of carnets,” provides Hungerford.

“There actually hasn’t been any authorities help or any clear steerage as as to whether you want a carnet or whether or not you do not.”

The crew of Bloodstock festival
The mix of COVID and Brexit has made it more durable to seek out the military of workers you want for a pageant, says Bloodstock’s director. Pic: Steve Dempsey

Jobs, jobs, jobs?

It is not simply the journey of kit and their house owners that’s inflicting difficulties for festivals post-Brexit.

Ms Davies-Jones says organisers from each regional and mammoth occasions, together with Glastonbury, advised her their primary concern was staffing.

“A part of it’s a results of COVID,” she says. “Lots of people ended up having to go and get different jobs as a result of the music business shut down.

“So expert workers, like riggers, lighting engineers, sound engineers, techs who had the expertise in placing all of this on, left the business, that means you are dropping that skillset on the excessive finish of the spectrum.”

Nevertheless, it’s not simply the technical crew who make a pageant operate.

“The workers who’re wanted for the day in, time out working of an occasion, establishing, the cleaners, safety, the individuals who you depend on to run an occasion like that had been coming over from Europe,” she says. “They’re simply not there now.”

Hungerford agrees that staffing has impacted the business, saying: “I used to be at an occasion up in Sunderland a few weeks in the past and we had been anticipating 52 crew to show up for the night time shift to interrupt down the stage. Solely six confirmed up.

“Everybody needed to work 4 occasions more durable to get a job completed. It took two days longer than it ought to have completed.”

Mr Gregory says a lot of his fellow pageant organisers have needed to cancel occasions because of the lack of workers.

“The mix of COVID and Brexit has worn out lots of people that beforehand had jobs throughout the music sector or the leisure sector,” he says.

The pageant director provides it has been a “very worrying, very making an attempt time” and the top to seasonal staff coming over to work a summer season of occasions has led to “very onerous work unnecessarily for an business that brings in billions of kilos yearly to the economic system”.

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Crowds at Glastonbury for first time since 2019

‘Festivals need assistance now, not in two years’

So what may very well be completed to assist these concerned in festivals to make sure the British scene continues to thrive, not simply this summer season, however within the summers to come back?

Freedom of motion must be sorted out actually for the humanities and leisure as an business,” says Mr Gregory.

“There’s lots of lobbying occurring making an attempt to realize some help, but it surely simply appears to be very a lot falling on deaf ears. It is probably not getting something aside from lip service from the federal government in the meanwhile.

“The business wants assist now. Not not in a 12 months’s time or two years’ time, it urgently wants that assist.”

Ms Davies-Jones additionally says a seasonal employee programme ought to be launched to make sure festivals can convey the workers over from the EU like earlier than.

“We have all these festivals and occasions and all of our leisure industries actually struggling in the meanwhile,” she provides.

“Our cultural actions are all affected by the identical factor – struggling to get good workers for jobs folks right here do not need to do.

“With out the scheme, the UK will endure because of this. We’re identified for our festivals. We’re identified for our unbelievable music and cultural exports. And that massive comfortable energy is now in danger.”

For Ms Jones, it’s extra private: “The pandemic highlighted how a lot folks relied on the music to get them by way of such a making an attempt time,” she says.

“Now every thing has ‘gone again to regular’, it is simply all been forgotten and it has all been taken without any consideration.

“The pageant business and the music business makes billions for the UK.

“We have to nurture that, the highest artists and the grassroots artists, particularly individuals who come from working class backgrounds, who haven’t got folks to pay for stuff, however who’ve a lot to convey to artwork and music – it might be a crying disgrace for folks like that to not be heard at festivals.”

We put these considerations and calls for to the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport, and a spokesperson stated: “We’re supporting the UK’s good musicians to adapt to the brand new preparations and make touring simpler and have made the case to each EU member state in regards to the significance of touring.

“24 EU Member States, together with the most important touring markets comparable to Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, have confirmed they provide visa and work allow free routes for UK performers and different artistic professionals.

“We’re persevering with dialogue with these few remaining nations which don’t provide visa or work permit-free routes.”