Touring transport sector calls for government support
Wednesday, 7 April 2021
vfbfleetThe Vans For Bands fleet lies idle
UK - Industry collective #WeMakeEvents, joined by over 150 industry players, has called for crucial government support for the specialist transport vehicles - carrying artists, crew, and equipment involved in touring productions - which have been rendered inoperable post-Brexit.
An essential component to music, film, and TV tours, passenger transportation relies on operating freely in the EU. Under the current post-Brexit EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) hauliers are restricted, stopping the 30 companies in the sector from returning and UK artists from being able to tour. This is instead opening up opportunities for trucking companies to be set up in the EU and sacrificing specialist jobs. The industry is now writing to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, urging the government to negotiate exemptions or waivers to the TCA and/or provide short-term workarounds.
Without freedom of movement to work across the EU, the demise of sleeper bus and splitter van businesses will threaten the UK’s entire creative export ecosystem and position as a recognised global leader in live events, say the campaigners. Unless the TCA is negotiated to provide an exception to the cabotage hauliers, the industry faces “another competitive disadvantage against EU-based competitors.”
To raise awareness, over 50 musicians have co-signed the letter including Frank Turner, Two Door Cinema Club, Maximo Park, Blossoms, Ghostpoet, Public Service Broadcasting, Melanie C and Jamiroquai. Also supporting are the producers and crew involved in music, film, and TV productions that rely on the customised vehicles operated by these live events businesses.
With all but no live events being able to take place in the EU for over a year, the letter follows a recent #WeMakeEvents’ survey further highlighting the complexities of Brexit:
Almost a third of respondents generated 30% or more of their revenues from Europe in 2019; 62% see the new EU relationship as a problem for business and income; 36% are expecting increased EU competition.
Duncan Bell, steering committee member of #WeMakeEvents, says: “The UK is geared up to hold around 85% of Europe’s touring capacity in terms of the live event supply chain and without solutions to the EU Touring obstacles we face, these businesses and individuals are in jeopardy. Over one year down the line since tours were taken from under our feet, we are witnessing an imminent destruction of the UK’s position as a supplier of skills and technology to touring. Without urgent intervention, we may well see the invisible army of touring staff have to permanently sacrifice their beloved careers and choose more stable jobs.”
Tarrant Anderson, the founder and a director of Vans For Bands, adds: “What we need the government to recognise is the irreparable damage that will be imposed upon touring production unless counteractive support to new EU laws is made accessible. The Brexit deal means the only work companies like ours can now do in the EU is make one delivery stop, one interior move in that location, then one more movement within the EU before being forced to return to the UK.
“The pandemic has exacerbated this in taking away all touring work before the law was imposed. In normal circumstances Vans For Bands services over 100 tours per month and transports around 10,000 musicians and crew every year - not being able to do what we do best, even when lockdown restrictions ease, will be devastating.”
Frank Turner, British singer and songwriter, said: “The restrictions which have become apparent in the wake of the Brexit deal are completely restrictive, to the point of negation, of the touring world I know and have worked in for the last two decades.”
Two Door Cinema Club, Northern Irish rock band, says: “If these restrictions were in place when we were starting out, pursuing our dream, I have no doubt that we wouldn’t be where we are today. This country exports incredible stories, art and pure jubilation, we must protect that otherwise we risk never having the next Adele, Artic Monkeys or Stormzy.”

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