Friday, February 19, 2021

Cultural Dog's Breakfast for Musicians Following Brexit Mismanagement

Letter to PM Outlines the Problems for UK Hauliers
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – As the dust settles on the Brexit agreement the areas in which individual sectors are affected have turned out to be good news for some, and extremely bad news for others. The EU has shown in the past few days that it is not the single voice which it claims, with different countries reacting differently to their new relationship with the UK.

For many ordinary citizens there is a feeling that the politicians concerned on both sides have lost their way with regard to why they are in position, that is to serve the public in the best way possible. Reason demands that certain things fall outside the definition of ‘trade’ and have a purely international cultural benefit to all.

Now fifty leading music industry figures and concert hauliers have joined forces and sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to secure a ‘cultural easement’ to allow UK firms to continue taking tours across the EU, warning that the industry faces ruin in the wake of the pandemic and new post-Brexit trade restrictions.

The letter points out that the new cabotage and cross trade rules which only allow British-registered trucks three stops in Europe before having to return to the UK will stop the delivery of European concert tours and other musical performances. Mark Pemberton, representing the Association of British Orchestras, said:

“The limits on cabotage have the potential to kill orchestral touring. A typical tour might involve multiple concerts in one country, followed by concerts in another, meaning a limit of two laden journeys within the EU makes using a UK-registered vehicle impossible.

”But with orchestras often using their own trucks, kitted out at vast expense to protect fragile and high-value instruments, with humidity and temperature controls, it simply isn’t an option to use an EU-based commercial haulier either. Without an exemption from these cabotage limits, it is hard to see how the UK’s world-leading orchestras can continue to perform at Europe’s major concert halls and festivals.”

The authors of the letter claim that the events industry contributes £70 billion a year to the UK economy and drew a comment from Colin Greenwood, bassist with long-established British rock band Radiohead, who said:

“The new bureaucracy could threaten the livelihoods of thousands of British citizens who make the UK events industry a success story. Live music is a vital part of our country’s economy. It’s important that Government offers support by helping haulage operators deal with the new documentation following Brexit, including the new European driving permits, new customs permits that they’re going to need, and all the new red tape.”

The point of view was strongly supported by Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett who commented that if the UK events haulage industry is to have any chance of survival it needs an EU-wide easement so that trucks moving touring equipment can continue to make multiple stops across Europe.With streaming resulting in tours often being the main source of income for many musicians, this matter needs resolving by the time the problems of the pandemic finally ease. 

The letter to the Prime Minister can be read in full HERE.

Photo: Outfits like the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have specially kitted out trucks to enable them to tour.