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Photography Danny Howe, via Unsplash

Post-Brexit immigration policy is ‘a disaster for the British music scene’

The new system ‘will cut the legs off the bottom half of the music industry,’ a leading figure says

Part of the points-based immigration system introduced by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel last year and set to be enforced from January 1, 2021, will have disastrous consequences for the UK’s music industry, according to major figures.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, has been particularly outspoken about the changes, which will force performers from the EU to apply for a visa to enter the UK (at a cost of £244 each), and provide proof of just under £1,000 in savings alongside sponsorship from an event organiser.

“This is taking a shotgun and shooting ourselves in the foot,” Annetts told The Independent. “The Home Office has failed to grasp that touring and the creative industries are not about immigration, but are a global industry in which people move around all the time.”

She points out that emerging or less wealthy artists will be particularly dissuaded from visiting: “This will cut the legs off the bottom half of the music industry. And what is going to happen to our small venues who have to go through this process to bring artists across from the EU?”

Events such as the world music festival Womad have already faced more difficulty booking artists due to Brexit, with many not willing to face the risks or expenditure of travelling to the UK.

Annett also warns that there could be repercussions from the EU, which may in turn crack down on UK artists’ right to travel within Europe for touring purposes. “Priti Patel’s new immigration policy is a disaster for the British music scene,” added David Lammy, MP for Tottenham. “What purpose does it serve to put up barriers to bands and musicians?”

The issue was also preempted by many British musicians – including Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, and Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja – back in 2018. Kamasi Washington has since voiced his concern as well.