According to various newspaper reports from the island’s media, the situation of professional musicians in the UK, and especially in London, has deteriorated dramatically following the Brexit vote, which was only passed by a minority due to low voter turnout.

Many necessary travel documents, work permit(s) travel, health and instrument insurances may be required if British musicians wish to travel to Europe to perform. These regulations are having a negative impact on travel.

Many British musicians say that Brexit has cost them dearly. In one survey, nearly half of respondents said they had less work in the EU, and more than a quarter said they had lost work in Europe altogether.

In its ‘Paying the Price’ report, the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM) said that those still working in Europe are facing a significant increase in costs as fees for visas, work permits and equipment carnets have been introduced since the UK left the EU.

A new Brexit tax hike set to hit British orchestras later this year could make travel to Europe « unviable » and undermine their activities in the UK, the professional body for music ensembles has warned.

From 1 April this year, British orchestras crossing the Channel will no longer be able to claim tax relief for performances in the European Economic Area, as is currently the case.

The British government is making the change to bring the UK into line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, which is necessary because the UK is leaving the EU’s single market.

British orchestras are now saying that their income is at risk as a result of the recent changes, which in turn is affecting investment and performances at home.

It is also difficult for opera singers, who often have to be in a country for very long periods to rehearse their pieces. They almost always need a visa, which makes it more inconvenient and expensive for opera houses to hire British singers.

London’s orchestras work extensively with freelance professional musicians, whose employment opportunities are also limited and threatened by the deep cuts in orchestra funding.

The effects of the cost of living crisis (rising living cost, rising rents) are also hitting musicians hard. Many of them also work in other professions to keep their heads above water.

Recently, half of the musicians in the London Chamber Orchestra walked out of a rehearsal to protest the way they had been treated over the past five months. The orchestra had been unable to pay the musicians because Barclays Bank had allegedly frozen the orchestra’s account without warning – because the orchestra had failed to provide some information that the bank was required to receive as part of its obligations to prevent financial crime.

Efforts to reopen the account took several months, according to the report. « We informed the musicians during this time that their payment would be made as soon as the account was reopened, but as the timetable for reopening kept slipping, it was difficult to give the musicians a clear timeframe, » the manager told the Guardian.

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