Support our Touring Professionals

The new UK/EU trade deal is going to make it much harder for UK-based workers to tour the EU.

No EU-wide arrangement has been agreed for work permits or carnet applications (the movement of equipment), so the new reality for touring professionals and artists embarking on a tour of the EU is:

  • UK citizens may only work for 90 days within a 180-day period, shorter than the length of many tours
  •  UK touring professionals will face up to 27 different applications, a prohibitive economic and bureaucratic burden

This will have a hugely detrimental impact on our industry and as Bectu members have been pointing out, the impact will be felt across the industry – from artists and crew performing arenas to those touring pubs and small festivals. It is critical that musicians and crew are considered together – one cannot exist without the other.

Bectu is calling on the UK Government to reopen negotiations with the EU and secure a free cultural work permit to allow touring professionals visa free travel throughout the 27 EU states and to secure a Carnet exception for touring equipment.

Watch National Secretary Noel McClean speak at the Carry on Touring zoom rally on why Bectu members need visa free travel throughout the EU below. You can also click here to watch our latest Theatre Touring branch meeting open to all during Heart Unions Week.

Impact on Bectu members

Bectu members have written powerful testimonies, detailing the impact that the new restrictions will have on them and the sector. You can download the full document here. 

John Rogers, Lighting Operator, Designer, Programmer, CAD Product Specialist and Lecturer: 

“All the work I have done building my expertise and reputation in my field over the last 18 years will not be enough to mitigate prohibitive visa costs incurred by my nationality. Put simply, as a British worker I will have become priced out of my own job due to the loss of the ability to work in Europe.”

Gareth Barton, Freelance Event Production:

“I have recently started to see job adverts for companies asking for ‘Non UK passport holders’.  It’s so much easier for employers to overlook us now due to the added complications.”

Ben Ellis, Musician and Head of Sound:

“The government and the EU seem to think that the provision to be able to work 90 out of 180 days as an artist or tech visa-free in Europe will be fine. It will not. Most touring techs and musicians can only survive by working for more than one artist. We cannot survive if we can only work for 90 day out of every 180 days. That will potentially mean that we can’t work for half of the time in our biggest, closest market which is Europe.”

Callum Vernon, Live Front of House & System Technician:

“I’ve spent the last 5 years touring for more than 8 months at a time around the EU, specifically Germany & France as the Head of Sound for one major production. The requirement for working visas will impact me dramatically, as already the Production Company have said there will be a strong possibility they won’t be able to hire me.”

Nadgy Khirat, Lighting Director:

“I have been part of many UK /EU tours that had to ship me home after the last day of the European tour because they could not afford to take me over to the US, I suspect the same will happen for the EU leg of the tour if we can’t find a solution. Which represent usually anywhere between a week and a month or more worth of dates and tour.”

Joe Peet, FOH Sound Engineer:

“Many music genres are well-loved across the world by a small, dedicated audience; however, the margins for non-mainstream culture can be tight at the best of times. Culture on the fringes, hi-brow, alternative or emerging new forms is likely to be hit hardest by the new travel restrictions in Europe for UK artists and crew.”

Myles Hayden, Sound Engineer:

“Around a third of my work comes from American bands and production companies. They use Britain as a hub for their work in Europe due to our high levels of infrastructure, expertise and access to the EU. The new legislation that has come into play due to Brexit has made me and my colleagues uncompetitive against our rivals in the EU, particularly from production houses in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland.”

Lucinda Potter, Sound Engineer and Technician:

“The UK is renowned for its skill set in this sector. There is a reason we have a mass export of skill to Europe and entire productions are created using UK based workers. The US uses primarily UK based staff/companies to produce it’s shows. To put it bluntly, the new restrictions mean that the ‘perk’ of the UK is gone. With this isolation there is little to no appeal to hire a UK production team.  It’s not financially beneficial, we are no longer a gateway into a European tour.”