I get lots of comments saying that it is still possible to tour the EU. And for the most part I absolutely agree, it is possible, there are expensive hurdles to jump through that haven’t existed for a long time, there are delays that have to be factored in to the touring budget,
including additional accommodation, procedures that need to be adopted such as dealing with vat on merchandise, additional transportation costs, all these things add up.
To make touring viable it needs meticulous planning, gone are the days are a bunch of youngsters loading their gear in a transit van and setting off on a journey of a lifetime. But the biggest issue facing us all is the 90/180 day rule for accessing the Schengen area. Essentially, for those that don’t know, we are only allowed a maximum of 90days at a time within 180, it’s complicated to keep track of, but for some it’s a disaster.
As a technician, I and most of my colleagues move from tour to tour as each finish, it means that we rapidly burn through our 90 days, then we’re not allowed back in Schengen for another 90 days, not even for holidays or visiting ill relatives. Overstaying the 90 days could see you facing heavy fines and potentially being banned for 5 years. You would also have your passport marked as an overstayer, try getting into the USA with that mark in your passport.
But it also affects musicians like for the same reasons, some contracts with EU based opera houses etc are for much longer than 90 days, that means our fantastic opera singers and solo musicians are not able to undertake these contracts.
The EU market is so important to UK based creatives, it acts as a stepping stone to the wider markets of the Asia, Australia and the USA, I have personal experience of this, I met a Vision director on a Rihanna tour in the EU, a year later that Director asked a Canadian company to contract me for an 8 month worldwide Lady Gaga tour, a tour I would never have got unless I’d met and impressed the Director enough for him to specify me for the role.
But it also works in reverse, in exactly the same way for EU based artists and crew. It’s a shocking and senseless waste of talent and needs an urgent solution.