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Suffolk musicians back campaign to protect musicians touring in Europe after Brexit

PUBLISHED: 18:12 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:12 16 September 2017

Musicians with MEP Alex Mayer at the Smokehouse music venue at South Street Studios.  L-R Smokehouse director Joe Bailey, Andi Hopgood from MU, Webby, MEP Alex Mayer, Tony James Shevlin.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Musicians with MEP Alex Mayer at the Smokehouse music venue at South Street Studios. L-R Smokehouse director Joe Bailey, Andi Hopgood from MU, Webby, MEP Alex Mayer, Tony James Shevlin. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Musicians in Suffolk have called on the region’s MPs to back a campaign to protect the rights of touring performers amid fears that Brexit will make it harder to make a living from music.

MEP Alex Mayer visited  the Smokehouse music venue at South Street Studios as part of the Working in the EU pledge.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN MEP Alex Mayer visited the Smokehouse music venue at South Street Studios as part of the Working in the EU pledge. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The national Working in the EU campaign launched by the Musicians’ Union came to the Smokehouse venue in Ipswich on Friday, where MEP Alex Mayer pledged her support alongside performers.

The MU and local musicians fear that the Brexit deal being laid out will mean that touring musicians who regularly visit Europe for work will be hampered by more red tape, face the possibility of having to apply for visas in every country they perform in and lose out on jobs which often come at the last minute.

Question marks also hang over existing copyright of songs, which are currently valid for both the UK and Europe, as well as royalties from songs by UK artists played on European radio stations.

The campaign also wishes to aid European musicians wishing to perform in Britain post-Brexit.

Ipswich borough councillor, MU committee member and gigging musician Andi Hopgood said: “At the moment you can book in dates, get on a plane and go, but that is all going to go out of the window.

“We also have a lot of orchestral players working over here and we want to make sure they are going to be able to stay here.

“The creative industries are a large export – our music is probably second only to the US in the world in revenue and we don’t want to jeopardise that.”

Ipswich singer songwriter Tony James Shevlin, who regularly performs in Europe and the US, said organising tours in America were tricky because of the visa system, and a similar system in Europe would leave musicians at risk of losing work.

“I travel a lot to the US and that’s a nightmare trying to get visas for that,” he said.

“Every visa is a cost so with every country you go to you have to look at if it’s worth doing – it will absolutely become so much harder.”

MEP Alex Mayer added: “We need to make sure this is up there in the negotiations. This is people’s livelihoods.

“We have got to make sure it’s as simple as possible because people’s jobs depend on it.”

To find out more about the pledge and to get involved visit the campaign website here.

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