Music is a fundamental part of our cultural enjoyment and live gigs provide an indispensable source of income for bands, artists and crew; however, Covid and Brexit have exposed the extreme vulnerability in the music industry. Touring Europe has always required paperwork and with individual countries rules changing almost daily, it now involves greater risks and increased bills.
Therefore getting ALL European artists back on the road as quickly as possible is essential. Two European organisations, IMPALA and IAO have suggested a proposal for making touring easier with a permit to allow gigs across multiple geographic groupings in Europe.
THE GECAT PASS
The GECAT Pass (Geographical European Cultural Area Touring), aims to help get small and medium-sized music tours back on the road efficiently. It would cover all countries, including the EU, EFTA, interested EU neighbouring countries like the Western Balkans, and individual countries such as the UK.
Artists and tour managers would immediately appreciate the reduction in paperwork, visa applications and above all lowered cost.
The GECAT Pass involves four core elements:
1. Single travel permit for cultural touring for performers and support teams
- Annual and renewable work permit for creative workers on tour
- Multiple geographical groupings making up the Geographical European Cultural Area
- Single application in the home country
- Could limit the number of people per tour to cap eligible production size
2. Single customs licence for equipment (“carnet”)
- Reduced admin burden with a single check at first and last border
- Including a limited amount of stock to be sold at events without trading permits
- Light touch regime, proportionate to the economic value
- Let small scale tours happen easily – and legally
3. Allow multiple stops before going home
- Unlimited stops for equipment and people who are involved in touring cultural activity – could limit the number and size of vehicles per tour for scale
- Inclusion of dual-use vehicles for people and goods (eg’ splitter vans’)
- Legalise normal cultural touring activity – especially for smaller tours
4. Home country VAT on merchandise sold at events
- VAT paid in the home country on return, for the small amounts included in customs licence
IAO Chair Nacho García Vega commented: “The idea of the GECAT permit scheme is a simple fix to the barriers faced by the music and cultural sector across multiple geographical blocs. The recent issues created by Brexit have highlighted the administrative problems relating to touring that were already faced by European artists based in non-EU countries. It’s not only about the transit of people and goods, but it’s also about the free flow of ideas and artistic expressions, essential for peace and co-operation in the whole region.”
IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith added: “The touring crisis creates new opportunities as long as we can provide the framework and assurances that different geographical blocs and countries need. The idea is to guarantee a level-playing field and make sure that all artists have access to the same touring opportunities, regardless of where they are based or their level of development. The European music market stretches beyond political and economic groupings, so the key is for all geographical blocs and countries in the region to participate.”
So, will it happen?
As a concept, the GECAT Pass ticks the boxes for an effective solution for streamlining artists back on the road. Anything that helps reduce admin costs, especially for smaller niche bands and artists, is especially welcomed. Though optimistic on this idea we contacted Didier Gosset from IMPALA, who explained the stages ahead.
“The next step will imply intense lobbying with both the EU and the other European countries. This is likely to start properly in late August, once the EU institutions return from their summer recess. It is always difficult to assess the chances of such a proposal being (quickly) adopted. Still, we are confident things can move, especially as we are not reinventing the wheel but focusing on possible exceptions to facilitate an existing process.”
Discover more. Visit Impala Music