Brexit threat to Festival and Celtic Connections
RATHER than “Bathgate no more” and “Linwood no more” we could soon be singing “Fringe no more” and “Celtic Connections no more”. The Proclaimers – famed for their anthem Letter From America – are among a host of Scottish music stars who are warning that Brexit risks devastating Scottish culture. A new campaign by the Musicians’ Union is warning that Brexit that will usher an era “disastrous” decline for Scotland’s flagship cultural festivals. Popular vents such as Glasgow’s Celtic connections and the Edinburgh International Festival face being devastated by restrictions on European musicians visiting the UK after Brexit, campaigners say. There are also concerns that the careers of Scottish musicians will be damaged by the limits put on them in terms of working across continental Europe. Craig and Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers are among the artists who have signing up to the campaign, along with Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross, Pat Kane of Hue and Cry, Rod Jones of Scottish indie band Idlewild and singer-songwriter Rab Noakes. Speaking to the Sunday Herald, the Leithborn twins said that Brexit “will make working across Europe much more difficult and limit the chances for bands starting out to do their first gigs on the continent. It also sends out completely the wrong message to musicians from Europe who make a living in Scotland. We both voted to stay in the EU and its becoming clear that Brexit will be bad for musicians in Scotland”.
The Musicians’ Union (MU) is already organising a petition for free movement for musicians post-Brexit. MPs and UK party conference have also been targeted by the MU.
The MU says: “Being able to tour and travel to work is vital to many musicians’ careers – and before the EU gave us free movement in its member states, travelling in Europe was tough, expensive, heavy on the admin, and time-consuming.”
Ricky Ross, the lead singer of Deacon Blue has also signed up to the campaign ahead of the Holyrood debate. Pat Kane is also among the signatories. He said “Musicians are free spirits, or should be. And when it comes to being inspired by music or musicians, we presume no boundaries or borders. The prospect of Brexit limiting the movement of musicians across Europe is dreadful – we must find a exemption to this, for both artistic and commercial reasons.”
Rod Jones, Idlewild guitarist and songwriter, said: “Freedom of movement for artists in Europe is more important than ever.
“With live revenue making up the main share of most musicians’ income any restriction on touring and additional costs such as visas will hit artists hard. Music is about sharing ideas with people and adding more borders and barriers will only make this more difficult.”
Singer-songwriter Rab Noakes said: “On behalf of musicians I am appalled at the negative prospect of the resulting forthcoming difficulties regarding touring, selling records and creative international collaborations.
“There is no clarity regarding such things as cross-border conditions, visas and work permits. In fact, there seems to be not an iota of thought given to such employment or trade and certainly no regard for existing cultural advantages. It is absolute madness, and absolutely maddening.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “Britain has a world-leading music industry and we want music in all its forms to continue to thrive.
“We stand ready to help UK musicians and the wider industry maximise the opportunities presented by Brexit.The Government is building a truly global, open and outward-facing Britain. After we leave the EU we will have an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK.”
Prominent Scottish music stars such as The Proclaimers, left, and Pat Kane of Hue and Cry, far left, have expressed fears for the future of Scottish festivals due to Brexit