Melissa Bradshaw

The ABO publishes open letter to Conservative Party leadership candidates

12:07, 9th July 2019

The ABO (Association of British Orchestras) has published an open letter to the Conservative Party leadership candidates, articulating concerns of the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on the sector.

An extract from the letter:

We urge the two contenders in the Conservative Party leadership contest to take account of some of the key issues affecting our membership. We take comfort from the fact that, whoever becomes the next Prime Minister, they will have experience of working with our members: one candidate, when Mayor of London, was supportive of the classical music sector and created the Mayor’s Music Fund; and the other is a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

However, both candidates have shown a willingness to countenance a No Deal Brexit on 31 October. This is a significant concern for our members. British orchestras have benefited for decades from freedom of movement of talent and touring within the EU, and we call on the next Prime Minister to pursue a deal that maintains frictionless movement of goods and people.

No Deal preparations have not gone far enough to reassure our members:

  • First, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have not taken steps to put social security co-ordination agreements in place with each of the EU27 nations. This is vital for ensuring our musicians do not face double-charging of social security contributions when working abroad.
  • Second, the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs is failing to prepare the UK ports most often used by our members, such as Dover-Calais, Eurotunnel, Immingham and Holyhead, for the mandatory inspection of Musical Instrument Certificates. Orchestras often transport musical instruments containing small quantities of CITES-listed species such as ivory and rosewood, and this situation leaves our members exposed to uncertainty about potential additional costs and delays.

Our members cannot prepare for a No Deal Brexit until all government departments have done their job of putting all the paperwork and systems in place. This must be a priority for the new Prime Minister.

ABO director Mark Pemberton commented: ‘From freedom of movement for musicians to social security double-charging on gigs abroad, and the prospect of having their valuable instruments confiscated at the border, we need the government to step up its preparations and ensure our orchestras and bands can continue to take the best of British music abroad.’

The full text is available to read here.


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