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Minister bitterly disappoints campaigners on the need for free movement for touring artists 

Cross-party MPs, Peers and campaigners rallied behind Tim Brennan’s Petition yesterday. The petition’s debate in Parliament saw MP, after MP, making the case for visa free touring across the EU. In response, Digital and Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage MP’s left members of ‘Carry on Touring Campaign’ bitterly disappointed. 

Tim Brennan and the wider ‘Carry on Touring’ Campaign felt the Culture Minister’s response failed to recognise the scale of the problem and the urgent need to go back to the negotiating table. 

Commenting on the impact of the Campaign and support for Tim’s petition, Dinenage said: 

“The Government fully understands and recognises the importance of touring for UK musicians and other cultural professionals.” 

“Our proposals were very straightforward: they involved capturing the work done by musicians, by artists, by entertainers and their accompanying staff, through the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors. This would have meant performers and artists could have worked and travelled in the EU more easily and would mean that there were no requirements for work permits either.” 

“Quite simply, the EU rejected this proposal,” she told MPs. “There was no specific counter-offer from the EU concerning touring for musicians, or for the creative sectors.” 

Tim Brennan, the petition’s creator said: 

“I was absolutely moved by the passionate speeches given by such a varied group of MPs from all parties. It shows that it’s not just those 283,000 signatories that have a real passion for live music and the creative industries – it is an issue that impacts everyone. 

I cannot say how very disappointed I am that the Minister’s words were so hollow and that she repeated the same old lines which we have heard time and time again. 

It is time for the Government to recognise the increasing support and traction the ‘Carry on Touring’ campaign is getting from Parliamentarians, industry professionals and the public, and realise they need to go back to negotiate with the EU and give us the clarity we need to be able to carry on touring.” 

Ian Smith, Frusion Management & UKE Arts Work and member of the ‘Carry on Touring’ campaign said: 

“The Minister’s reply was lacking in detail and context for access to the UK and what the original talks encompassed in both directions. Debates of who is to blame are essentially missing the point, what we need is to explore what was offered on both sides and now look for a solution. The genesis of a solution rests in those original talks and we need both the UK and the EU to publish those details forthwith. 

Knowing the essence of truth both for EU citizens entry to the UK and UK citizens entry to Schengen is essential to understanding a solution. Unfortunately, the Ministers responses gave the impression that it is easy for EU creatives to enter the UK, they have in fact to prove they have a right to enter for work via PPE (Permitted paid engagement) or via a CoS at UK borders, not issued by “touring sponsors” but simply by any professional registered with the UK govt for issuing said certificates of sponsorship. 

Furthermore, to compare the permit free festivals available in the UK which number 41 in total fails to recognise any such performers could ONLY play at those festivals without any sort of permit or proof to access the UK for up to 30 days. 

This may have given the impression that the UK’s current regime offers ease of access to the UK market for EU creatives in opposition to what we now face in accessing the EU market, this is a partial truth at best. 

UK citizens need a blanket agreement across the Schengen area as allegedly proposed in the original talks, and this for exempted categories of workers. Finding a mechanism for this is the core of what we are asking, and in fact reflected in my recent suggestion widely reported in the press. Whether this is the solution is just a starting point for discussions.” 

The ‘Carry on Touring’ Campaign believe it is essential we have truth and clarity in dealing with this issue and not partial examination of what is in place on both the UK ‘s side and what is possible for the EU as a whole. It is not enough for Government to keep repeating the line that the door is open to the EU to come back and negotiate, we need to proactively seek a solution. It is the public and the economy that will disproportionately suffer unless the Government changes its tune. 


Carry on Touring is a public facing campaign to push forward Tim Brennan’s petition – organised by Gill Morris, DevoConnect with the support of Tim Brennan, petition creator and Ian Smith, Frusion Management & UKE Arts Work. 

For media queries please contact:

Gill Morris

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1 comment

  • Once again a demonstration of the total lack of knowledge of the industry she is supposed to represent.
    Equally as poor as Dowden

    Chris Markland

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