Julian Lloyd Webber slams post-Brexit touring rules after being made an OBE

The cellist and conductor is cited in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music.

Julian Lloyd Webber
Julian Lloyd Webber

Julian Lloyd Webber has labelled post-Brexit touring rules for musicians “really worrying”, after being made an OBE.

The cellist and conductor is cited in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music.

However he expressed concern that musicians might not be able to enjoy the same opportunities as him now that the UK has left the European Union.

Julian Lloyd Webber Classical BRIT Awards 2004
(Myung Jung Kim/PA)

New post-Brexit UK rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the EU.

“I was just so lucky to be able to go to the great cities like Vienna and Salzburg and Amsterdam and Paris and not have to fill in a single thing, just show my passport,” Lloyd Webber told the PA news agency.

“Those days have sadly gone.”

He said he has been able to work “completely visa-free” in Europe, thanks to the EU, throughout his career.

However the new travel rules make things “really difficult” for musicians “to carve out a great international career”.

Lloyd Webber, whose album The Singing Strad was released earlier this year, added: “We are going to become more and more parochial and go back to how it was many, many years ago.”

The additional red tape could mean “European organisations all think ‘Maybe we don’t need to book a British artist after all”, the former principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire said.

“It’s a minefield really, and it should have been tackled at the time in the Brexit negotiations.

“It would be simple to solve it with a visa waiver.”

School Of Rock The Musical press night – London
(Ian West/PA)

Last month, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said artists will be able to undertake some touring in at least 17 of the 27 European Union member states without needing visas or work permits.

He told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee he has engaged with every EU country on the issue since January.

There have been calls from across the performing arts industries for a cultural work permit deal to be reached between the Government and the EU, with a petition on the issue securing more than 280,000 signatures.

Lloyd Webber said his honour will be a boost for his industry.

“I think it’s great for classical music, it’s great for the profile of classical music, and I have obviously been blessed to work with amazing musical collaborators over the years, and I don’t think this award would have been possible without that,” he said.

“So I would like to thank each and every one of them.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We want performers and other creative professionals to be able to tour easily abroad.

“Short-term, temporary visits for paid performances by UK performers are possible in at least 17 EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, without needing visas or work permits.

“However, we recognise the difficulties still being faced by the sector. That is why we are working closely with individual member states to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.”

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