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EU musicians must pay for visas to perform in UK post-Brexit

Music venue owners from Kent are frustrated after it was revealed European musicians will have to pay to play in the UK from January 2021.

The Home Office announced that artists and bands from EU countries will be subject to the same rules as non-EU countries once the Brexit transition period finishes in December.

Pictured - Squid performing at Elsewhere in Margate
Pictured - Squid performing at Elsewhere in Margate

Under current guidelines artists are able to travel freely between the EU and the UK, but from January 1, 2021, will need to apply for a Tier 5 visa in order to perform.

Sammy Clarke, co-founder of the Elsewhere venue in Margate, is concerned the move will negatively affect the cultural scenes in the county.

He said: "This is terrible news for everyone involved and a thorn in the side of the live music sector.

"Ticket prices will have to increase in order for all involved to have a chance at breaking even.

"Currently we have a live circuit that is colourful and alive with a full spectrum of world perspectives, and we cannot lose that."

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Under new guidelines, each individual musician and crew member would have to pay £244 to apply for a Tier 5 visa.

Venue owners like Mr Clarke are worried that the cost of the visas will mean rising costs for gig tickets, which could dissuade many acts from wanting to perform in the UK.

Andre Dack, manager of the Ramsgate Music Hall, took to Twitter to vent his frustration over the news.

He said: "Running an independent music venue is challenging enough. Now, it's harder than ever.

"We'd need to raise ticket prices, which is counter-productive as wages are not going up."

He added: "Basically, prepare for more independent venues to close in the UK as a direct result of post-Brexit Britain.

"No scaremongering, no rumours. These are facts."

Mr Dack regularly books artists from countries across the EU, including Sweden's BADA and and experimental band Raketkanon from Belgium.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust co-and owner of the Tunbridge Wells Forum, said: "This will create a very challenging situation for new and emerging artists.

"We hope government will quickly bring forward services and financial support to mitigate the obvious negative impacts on the UK's ability to develop talent."

Mr Davyd had previously told KentOnline he was concerned about the impact on Kent's live music scene if provisions were not made in the restrictions of free movement.

The announcement in the government's policy paper is a blow to the Musician's Union, which has been campaigning for a two-year musician's passport which would make it easier for artists to travel between the UK and the EU.

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