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Musicians will be able to tour Spain visa-free in new post-Brexit deal

The deal is being celebrated as a victory for the live music industry

By Hollie Geraghty

Lights and streamers go off at a live music festival
Musicians will not need a visa to tour in Spain. (Photo: Wendy Wei/ Pexels).

UK musicians will be able to tour Spain visa-free in a new post-Brexit deal that is being celebrated as a victory for the music industry.

Following talks between music association LIVE, the Association for British Orchestras (ABO) and Spanish organisation Asociación Promotores Musicales, musicians in the UK and crews will not require a visa if they are touring Spain for less than 90 days.

Craig Stanley, Chair of the LIVE Touring Group, said in a statement: “We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish Government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications. 

“A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve as an industry when we work together.”

He added: “We are calling on the Government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union.”

Some roadblocks still remain, including merchandise and transportation of goods which currently limits stops and short stays in European Union states. 

Last month leading music industry organisations wrote an open letter to the government criticising “misleading” post-Brexit touring claims.

In August the government announced that visa-free short-term touring would be allowed in 19 European Union member states, but industry chiefs have claimed that the meaning was misleading.

There was further frustration when the government announced ‘visa-free short term touring’ in 20 EU countries, adding Romania to the list. There were complaints about the “spin and misinformation” that failed to address previous concerns.

Addressing the original August announcement, the open letter said: “We were concerned that this claim gave a misleading impression to members of the creative industries who rely on work in Europe and that your announcement implied that musicians (and other creative professionals) touring in those 19 member states would be permitted to work visa-free for up to 90 days.”

It added that existing short-stay visa-waivers between the EU and third countries are commonly 90 days within a 180-day period, but highlighted this is not the case with many countries on the list, which could cause confusion. 

Elton John is one of many musicians to have criticised the impact of Brexit on up-and-coming artists, arguing that his own career would have taken a different route without the opportunities of European touring.

Johnny also described Brexit as “an absolute catastrophe” for musicians.