Brexit: what could it mean for your group?

What, if any, are the potential implications of Brexit for the leisure-time music sector? And what could be done about them?

Making Music took no stance on Brexit prior to the referendum, nor afterwards. Our members, and their members, come from all areas of the UK, from all walks of life, from all kinds of professional and social backgrounds, and therefore will have voted, most likely, in line with the overall UK result.

It is not Making Music’s business to take a political view, but it is our business to make sure that the outcome of this vote does not have a negative impact on the leisure-time music sector, and that it continues to have the best possible environment to flourish.

And a question from a member brought it home to me that we haven’t spoken to music groups at all about Brexit. Has there been any discussion in the arts about Brexit, he asked? Just a bit! It can be summarised as:

  1. Why oh why. There’s been a lot of that and it has shown me that there is a massive disconnect between most professional arts organisations and their communities. This is not so music industry specific.
  2. OMG it’s going to be a disaster. There’s also been a lot of that, too, and the disaster areas are issues of European funding; free movement of artists; and other practical ones (copyright, VAT, double taxation, etc.).
  3. How can we mitigate any potentially disastrous outcomes for our industry? Finally, a sensible, practical question.

A number of organisations have drawn up lists (literally) of the matters that need to be addressed in negotiations, in order for the industry to continue functioning from Day 1 of post-Brexit. These are mostly practical matters: What will be the paperwork/cost involved in moving an orchestra across borders post-EU? Who will administer it? How do I bring a musician over from Europe at short notice if my Carmen has a sore throat? What kind of visas will there be for artists? How can I plan my artistic programme beyond March 2019 if I don’t know if or how I can engage them? What will the situation be in terms of health insurance, sales of music or CDs, intellectual property? Etc.

These lists are being brought to the attention of government by sectors vying with each other to collar individuals in the currently totally understaffed Brexit department. The arts are reasonably successful with this as the government does understand the importance of the creative industries to employment and the UK balance sheet, and as a soft diplomacy tool which they are going to need in the next few years. So there is hope that the issues of relevance and importance to music will be addressed during negotiations – if there is enough time and (wo)manpower to do so (both big questions).

As far as we can see the issues, and opportunities, for leisure-time groups specifically are:

  • If you want to tour to Europe post-Brexit, this may well entail more bureaucracy and cost than now. So it may put more of you off touring abroad. [On the other hand, as a soft diplomacy tool, music groups are hard to beat – an opportunity, maybe?]
  • You may find it too hard or too expensive to engage or present musicians from the EU, e.g. obtaining working visas, sponsorship costs. And you simply cannot plan ahead beyond March 2019 as you don’t know what the requirements will be. [Being able to plan is even more important to the professional live music sector and they are pushing this issue very hard.]
  • The Philip & Dorothy Green Young Artists scheme usually includes a number of artists from the EU; if that is no longer possible, will there be enough home-grown talent of the same standard to continue the scheme? [Is this an opportunity to bring home the message to government about the need for more widely available and better UK music education?]

We’d love to hear from you if you have any other concerns or issues you think will make your group’s life more difficult – or better – after Brexit, so do contact us or leave a comment below.