The Home Office has announced that any non-UK musicians will have to apply and pay for a Tier 5 visa to enter the country for any creative work. This includes a range of things such as performances, tours, events, talks and any promotion that relates to them as an artist.
The visa in question is called ‘Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting’ visa or also known as Tier 5. When applying, the visa will cost £244 and the artist will need to have £1000 in savings at least 90 days before even applying. The actual price of the visa is reasonable as it lasts for up to 12 months, however £1000 in savings is a large sum of money for any musical talent especially those from lower income backgrounds. This savings clause is extremely unfair for those musicians and can have a massive impact on the amount of talent coming into the country.
This announcement comes after several months of debates over whether musicians can receive special passports or visas that allow multiple entries over a certain time period. The Musicians’ Union started a petition online calling on the UK Government and Parliament to support a musicians’ passport for artists working in the EU/UK post-Brexit. The chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Deborah Annetts, was quoted saying; “We are deeply disappointed that free movement for musicians and other artists from the EU has been ruled out and we would ask the UK Government to reconsider our call for a two-year, multi-entry visa.”
In this day and age, touring and gigs are the foundation of the industry in which the majority of revenue is generated from live performances. Last year the UK music festival attendance was at its highest level in 4 years with 38% of adults in the UK attending at least one music concert which is up from 2018’s 34%.
The impact that this visa can have is huge as currently many non-UK musicians come to the UK for touring instead of the US, as the visa’s there are even more complicated with each member of a band needing to pay £1000 for a visa. On top of this, the visas can take months to be approved and can potentially be declined with the artist not being able to do anything.
As of writing this, it doesn’t look like this proposal from the Home Office will change. With people like Deborah Annetts continuing to fight this battle, we can only hope they win as the effect of this visa would be massive on the UK live scene.