Brexit: challenges for the European live music sector

In January 2021, the UK officially left the European Union. While many people working in the cultural and creative sectors deplored this evident step away from European cooperation, Brexit also brings new logistical, financial and bureaucratic challenges to UK live music scenes as well as European ones. Indeed, according to the Music Moves Europe study A European Music Export Strategy, UK is the second biggest live music market in Europe. Many UK artists tour Europe and vice versa.

This article intends to gather content on the challenges faced by the live music sector because of Brexit. Find below some opinion pieces, advocacy campaigns, information webinars and resource hubs on Brexit.

Opinion Pieces

Advocacy Campaigns

  • Keep the UK in Creative Europe (09/09/2020). Unfortunately this campaign, led by over 250 cultural leaders and arts organisations, including Live DMA, failed and the UK government has chosen to not be part of Creative Europe anymore. The same goes with the Erasmus+ programme. Only the Horizon Europe (research) programme has been kept by the UK government.
    From 2014 to 2020, €68 million from Creative Europe were awarded to UK direct beneficiaries. Overall, Creative Europe invested €203 million to support 609 projects which involved UK companies. According to the report on the impact of Creative Europe in the UK, the benefits and impacts of the programme reached far beyond financial ones.
  • IMPALA – Getting all european artists back on the road. Call for a cultural area touring permit across multiple geographic groupings in Europe.
    Reducing the costs and administrative burden of current work permit schemes and custom arrangements for cultural touring is key, particularly for grass roots, emerging, and niche artists. Known as the GECAT Pass (for Geographical European Cultural Area Touring), the idea is to get small and medium sized music tours back on the road quickly and efficiently. See more on the one-pager available here.

Information Webinars

  • 1/ Brexit Killing Culture ? The future of EU-UK Relations in the CCS by MEPs Niklas Nienass (DE) and Magid Magid (UK) – February

This webinar provides information on the practical challenges that Brexit will bring for touring artists.

“The Brexit is no good news for the Cultural and Creative Sectors in both the EU and the UK. The UK will no longer participate in Europe’s major Creative Europe programme. Apart from this, intercultural exchange between the EU and the UK will become more difficult. How will touring bands and other mobile performers be affected? What does the Brexit mean for UK artists coming to the EU – and vice versa?”


  • Anita DEBAERE, Director, Pearle* – Live Performance Europe, Brussels/BE
  • Julia FRANK, Senior Executive Manager Touring, Wizard Promotions, Frankfurt/DE
  • Tom KIEHL, Deputy CEO and Director of Public Affairs, UK Music, London/UK
  • Nick McDOWELL, Director International, Arts Council England, London/UK
  • 2/ EU/UK future relationships: challenges for the cultural sector, by the European Parliament in UK – September 2021


  • Julian Knight – UK MP
  • Howard Goodall – UK composer
  • Nieklass Nienass – EU MEP
  • Victor Negrescu – MEP, vice chair of the CULT
  • Moderated by Rosie Goldsmith

9 months into the official start of Brexit and with the Corona pandemic going on, the British arts sector is in free fall. Whereas, according to the Creative Industry Facts & Figures study, 96% of British CCS workers voted against Brexit, their cry for staying in the EU and avoiding the logistical and bureaucratic burdens that would come from Brexit was not heard, now is time to find practical solutions to these new cultural challenges.

Brexit brings three overall problems for CCS workers:

  • Loss of freedom of movement for touring artists and their crew;
  • For British organizations, loss of EU Funding for culture, notably through the Creative Europe programme;
  • Loss of opportunities to network, learn from others and collaborate with EU member states on cultural policies.

With the lowest rate of funding for the arts from all European countries, the UK will also see a huge economic loss with Brexit: Creative Europe injected over 60 million euros to UK direct beneficiaries and the effects of Brexit are already palpable, as we can see with the case of transport of live music equipment through Europe, cabotage, which is more complicated to do for UK artists now and truck companies are starting to settle in EU countries and looking for drivers with an EU passport to avoid the logistic and bureaucratic burdens of having an all-British crew managing transportation during tours of UK artists.

The CCS are by nature a travelling, touring, moving and international sector, and having such a level of protectionism from the UK government does not fit at all the ways of working of the CCS. British artists and their crew have to face new rules and are treated as external countries by the same rules they contributed to build while they were still in the EU. The logistical, bureaucratic and financial costs of Brexit will hit hard UK artists, especially the emerging ones who do not have the same resources as Sir Elton John, for example.

Now is the time to create bridges between the UK and EU countries, before we lose a connection once and for all. UK and the EU will always be neighbouring countries, and the must start to build friendly and constructive relationships. The webinar tried to hint at some practical and future-oriented solutions, such as:

  • Start to negotiate on bilateral agreements between the UK and all EU member states which aim at easing the cost and bureaucracy that is now in place;
  • Sort, at EU level, the issue of cabotage;
  • Look for alternative models of cooperation (UNESCO, Council of Europe) to be funded and develop networks;
  • Look at other examples of good relations with neighbouring countries not part of the EU (Norway, Turkey…);
  • Do not underestimate the power of cities in developing good international cooperation policies and programmes;
  • Do not lose contact with the continent: we need to work together as neighbours and friends;
  • Join EU platforms and be a beneficiary of Creative Europe as third country.

Resource Hubs

  • Carry On Touring
    Carry on Touring is the umbrella campaign which all those who tour – and rely on touring – can support and sit under. Started from a petition which asks the UK Government to negotiate a free cultural work permit that gives touring professionals visa free travel throughout the 27 EU states for music touring professionals, bands, musicians, artists, TV and sports celebrities that tour the EU to perform shows and events and to secure a Carnet exception for touring equipment. On the back of the petition, the Carry on Touring campaign was established to keep the pressure on Government to go back to the negotiating table. Moreover, Carry on Touring regroups many organisations from the sector as well as industry players and political parties.
    Carry on Touring has a resource page where you can find information about Brexit and touring.
  • UK E Arts Info
    This website offers updated information on specific matters related to Brexit and touring such as cabotage, carnets, visas, work permit, taxes… for both people from the EU working in the UK or vice versa
  • Arts Info Point UK
    Arts Infopoint UK is a pilot initiative to support the arts sector with information on practical issues relating to artist mobility.