Real People, Real Lives, Real Jobs

Our Open Letter to the DCMS

Wow what a week, with the the new appointments in the PM's re-shuffle we now see a new Secretary of State for DCMS Nadine Dorries MP.

We welcome her appointment and hope she will engage with us as a priority.
Our open letter in response to the DCMS claims that we can tour in 19 EU states has attained 1645 signatures from across the creative industries, from organisations such as Bectu, Equity, ISM, the MU and many more, to business owner's and individual freelancers, each signatory represents  Real People with Real Lives & Real Jobs. Jobs that in fact are worth £116bn to the UK economy.

Why is this so important? Well prior to Brexit, when we had freedom of movement, we could freely tour the entire EU27 without any issues, red tape or cost, now we face more bureaucracy than you can shake a stick at!


The Gods of Rap Tour 2019

We not only face the added burden of red tape, we are also subject to time restrictions, for instance we are only allowed into the Schengen area for 90 out of 180 days, but not only that, some of the countries listed by the DCMS also have time limitations on their work permits, as I explained in our open letter, these time limits vary from Zero to 7 in any one year to 90 days in 180. This implies that in some of these countries there is no work permit exemption.  Hungary for example, where you need to apply for a residency permit to be able to work as a freelancer.   

At Carry On Touring, we hear a lot of stories of bands and individuals facing the reality of what we need to do to be able to continue our careers as we have done for years.

I'm going to give you just two of the examples that I have been recently sent. 
The first from Carole Wilson - Freelance Mezzo Soprano.

Carole Wilson - Freelance Mezzo Soprano - pictured in the role Herodias

Carole explains:
"My career has been (mainly) based in the EU. I was able to accept any job, traveling across the borders of continental Europe. I was able to accept “jump ins” - when the scheduled singer is ill, a company can call any other singer and offer the role “for one night only”. All great experience and very exciting!

I now have to balance the length of contracts – two “back-to-back“ opera contracts, can mean that I would be over my 90 day allocation for working in the Schengen area.  The length of my current contract here in Germany means I must return to the UK, so that time between performances does not count towards my Schengen allocation. The travel costs are a nightmare, but worth it to avoid the costs, the time and the paperwork relating to a visa.
People must understand – this is my job – my livelihood! It’s not a holiday!!
I’m coming to the end of my career, but what about our young performers? Already jobs in theatres are advertised for EU citizens only.
There aren’t enough companies in the UK to give positions to young performers and technicians. Then where can they work and how can anyone improve without experience?
I could go on - difficulties and costs in having to buy personal insurance, getting the paperwork ready for the theatre, many theatres (don’t blame them) thinking twice about engaging UK artists - the list is endless.
Reinstating Freedom of Movement is the only way forward."

The Second example from Graham Grimshaw Director @ g2-live ltd  A UK Conference Production company and an old colleague.

Graham explains:

It was great to talk to my old buddy, Tim Brennan after nearly 30 years. In the past we worked together on many corporate events.

I was put back in touch with him by a colleague for his knowledge on work permits for technical crew working in the conference industry.

ie: “Carry on Touring”

With six corporate events on the books all in Europe, this week I had the unfortunate task of standing down all my regular UK holding passport engineers and construction workers.

This is due to them not having work permits for the countries in Europe that our events are going to. As you now need a separate work permit for each country that you want to work in Europe.  

I and my clients cannot take the risk of the UK crew being turned away at a European border therefore jeopardising the event.

I have now had to resource all the events with engineers and companies based in the countries that the events are being held.

The work permit situation is a complete mine field where there seems to be no answers available

Due to Covid these guys have not worked in 18 months, now work is rolling in, but Brexit is stopping us once again. Somebody really needs to help us all here with some direction on either working in Europe or gaining valid work permits for the individual countries.

As we all know, we have some of the best engineers in the world and not being able to use them on these shows goes against everything that we believe in. For this reason, we need to be petitioning to get them back out there and successfully working in Europe once again.

Hence this comment/ blog

Hopefully Carry-On Touring can open some doors to all this confusion.


As you can see there are very real impacts to our livelihoods, we hope that our new Culture Secretary we take notice and help us by taking the government to task.

We need positive action, not blame games, they must go back to the EU and renegotiate a deal on our behalf.

We wait with bated breath for her response to the letter.

You can read the open letter here:



To have your voice heard, send us your article on the effect on your business now that the UK has left the EU.

Contact us for a chat.

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