Carmichael highlights touring visa challenges for isles festivals


Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out in Parliament about the need to mitigate new barriers to touring performers to and from the EU as a consequence of Brexit. Intervening in a debate on the situation of post-Brexit touring visas for performers, Mr Carmichael highlighted the international nature of cultural festivals in the Northern Isles, and the challenges these community-led enterprises face as a result of additional administrative barriers.

Speaking during the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“There is an aspect that she has not touched on—the festivals around the country. In Orkney we have the world-famous St Magnus festival in June, which was founded by the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. In Shetland, we have the Shetland folk festival. Those are community-enterprises, albeit highly professional ones. The administrative burden for them from having to deal with visas of the sort that the right hon. and learned Lady has already pointed out will be phenomenal. That cultural growth would be an enormous loss for our communities.”

Responding, Harriet Harman MP said:

“I completely agree with the right hon. Gentleman’s point. We have to think of the impact of those coming into this country: we need them to be part of our music sector here.”

Speaking after the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“Disruption to tours and international festivals was an inevitable consequence of the government’s choice to take the hardest possible break from EU membership – and the pandemic has only exacerbated that disruption. I am glad that the government is starting to remedy some of the worst barriers to cultural exchanges in both directions, with deals now reached with 21 of 27 Member States, but there is a long way to go.

“We are rightly proud of our cultural festivals in the isles which attract performers from across Europe and beyond – and form the basis for our own musicians to make connections elsewhere as well. We need to work to mitigate these new barriers and keep our cultural enterprises thriving.”


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