British musicians are facing dwindling opportunities within the EU. The costs of visa procedures and additional travel expenses have skyrocketed. Several musicians have decided to process their European nationality by inheritance.
Simon Wallfisch, a British professional opera singer, made the decision to move to Germany with his family to overcome what he sees as barriers for musicians caused by Brexit.
“It is simply a fact that we are facing: what was previously possible, to receive a call on a Friday, show up on a Monday and start working in another European country, is now not possible. And that is maddening and totally useless,” he says.
Brexit significantly affected the British music industry. For British musicians, the cost of applying for visas, work permits and additional travel expenses has skyrocketed.
The limitations of the Schengen visa restrict professionals to only 90 days, in a period of 6 months within the EU. The UK-EU agreement lacks provisions for short-term travel by freelance creative professionals.
“What we’ve done is completely shoot ourselves in the foot,” Simon declares.
European nationality by heritage: an outlet for musicians
Simon – who continues to perform all over Europe – considers himself one of the lucky ones, able to take advantage of his grandmother’s German heritage.
Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a German-born Jew and Auschwitz survivor, understands and supports her grandson’s decision to obtain German citizenship.
“He is a true European. These Brexit people have not thought of anything. As far as we are concerned, it is a totally practical decision. German or English?: European,” says Anita.
Declining opportunities for British musicians
At the Royal Albert Hall, the impact of Brexit on the music industry resonates loudly. A recent survey by the Independent Society of Musicians reveals that British musicians are facing dwindling opportunities within the EU.
Half of them report a decline in Europe-based opportunities since Brexit, and a quarter are left with no engagement at all within the European Union.
Sean Purtell, young baritone, was too young to vote in the Brexit referendum. He has been approached to work at a Danish opera house, but the opportunity fell through due to visa complications.
“They were completely honest: they said that because of Brexit and my situation as a British citizen, it was going to be more difficult for me. I was their first choice, but I just couldn’t make it in time,” Sean says.
Sean is now going through the process of applying for an EU passport through his Irish heritage.
British musicians – who don’t have that option – are now asking for a bespoke visa waiver deal with the EU so they can continue playing in Europe.
Additional sources • Angélica Parra Hernández (Voiceover, subtitles and text in Spanish)
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