Elton has written that the UK’s Brexit negotiators either ”didn’t care about musicians, or didn’t think about them, or weren’t sufficiently prepared. They screwed up. It’s ultimately down to the British government to sort it out: they need to go back and negotiate.”
The performer also wrote in the Guardian
that the current situation is ”ridiculous.”
He believes music is one of Britain’s greatest cultural exports but ”got left out of the Brexit trade negotiations when others weren’t.”
Music-makers are now unable to tour Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, but as soon they can, they’ll face new paperwork and fees. Previously, they could tour freely through the EU; now it’s necessary to secure a visa or work permit for each country they wish to play, depending on the rules set by each region. Another cost is a ”carnet,” a list of goods such as musical instruments that are allowed to cross borders.
Elton’s remarks come as pressure grows on the government to negotiate visa-free working arrangements from professionals across the British creative industries.
The 73-year-old also said the new rules are ”an administrative nightmare that vastly increases the cost of staging a European tour . . . I don’t want to live in a world where only artists who’ve been going for decades, who’ve already sold millions, can tour properly.”
Elton is calling for the creation of ”a support organisation where artists who don’t have the kind of infrastructure that I have around me can access lawyers and accountants, who can help them navigate the current situation. The music industry needs to contribute to this financially.” Current government advice is for musicians to research and fulfil the visa requirements of each country themselves.
Elton added: ”Getting your music across the crowds from a different culture to your own, who don’t necessarily speak the same language as you, just makes you a better musician. As I discovered in the 60s, you can spend months in a rehearsal room painstakingly perfecting your craft and you won’t learn as much about live performance as you do in half an hour trying to win over an unfamiliar audience . . . you write better songs as a result.”