Three years ago today, a friend sent me a link to a petition he’d seen, saying “Have you seen this?” It was a link to a parliamentary petition I had written about the devastating effect Brexit was going to have on music touring. At the time of my friend’s email, the petition stood at a little over 5,000 signatures. Over the following few days it went viral, reaching over 286,000 signatures within about ten days.
Of course, the government responded, as they have to, with what would turn out to be the broken record response that we’ve had ever since. I was contacted by Gill Morris of @DevoInflect and after a long chat we set up the Carry On Touring campaign. Ian Smith @Frusion joined us shortly afterwards, and I was invited to give evidence to the parliamentary debate of the petition.
Huge support and achievement
Over the next three years we have gained support from not only the music touring industry, but across the creative industries, from fashion, theatre, classical music, opera, to photographers, writers, and anyone that earns a living working within the EU.
The aim of the campaign was and still is to pressure the UK government into negotiating a “cultural passport” with the EU, to allow us to continue touring the EU freely as we had done before the Brexit curtain came down and we lost Freedom of Movement and all that it allowed us.
During the three years that we have run the campaign, completely voluntarily funded by ourselves and donations, we have organised a UK/EU summit with speakers from all parties in parliament and music industry figures from across the EU.
We’ve also held and taken part in countless meetings with various government departments and industry groups, where the government has promised the earth and done nothing.
We’ve also written many letters to the government requesting movement on the matter, but always received that broken record reply, “that it didn’t fit within their manifesto promise to take back control of our borders”.
We’ve taken musicians and industry figures into the House of Lords to give evidence of the problems.
As you can see we have achieved a lot in raising awareness of the issues facing the creative touring industries surrounding working within the EU, even though we don’t get paid, or have a lot of time to do it, but we do it because we are passionate about the industry.
And the government?
But what has the Conservative government done in return to help the situation, Nothing! They have stuck their fingers in their ears, buried their heads in the sand and hoped we’d go away. Yes they promised us all sorts but have done nothing.
One of the things they promised us was a Music Export Office, essentially a centre to provide assistance in the maze of red tape, a kind of one-stop information place.
It’s never happened. They have also failed to provide adequate training to the border force on how to deal with our carnets, and also incoming EU artists.
The government claims that it secured a deal with the Spanish authorities, but that was the industry itself that negotiated the deal, not the government.
The government is not interested in solving the issues they caused by failing to negotiate a proper deal for Creative Touring despite the EU offer to include a chapter about mobility in the TCA, which the government refused. Even Frost admitted that they had f***** up by not sorting it out.
So after three years of campaigning, the government has ignored us, the industry and countless parliamentary supporters, even from their own party. They may say they have done a lot, but it’s just more gaslighting, something they do constantly.
An easy win for Labour
Carry On Touring has given up wasting our time on the current government, it’s very tedious having to deal with so many culture ministers in such a short space of time.
Our aim now is to brief the next potential government (Labour) as it really is a simple fix and an easy win for them to sort out the mess left by the Tories.
If you want to know more and crucially support us in what we do, please take a look at the campaign website, and if you can please donate towards our future campaigning goals. We want to bring another UK /EU debate to the table to get the next government ready to start negotiating on behalf of the creative touring industry.