British Musicians Want A Better Brexit Deal For Performers

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Jazz saxophonist Binker Golding. (Courtesy)
Jazz saxophonist Binker Golding. (Courtesy)

Jazz saxophonist Binker Golding is one of many British musicians urging his government to renegotiate a better Brexit deal.

Golding says Brexit has made it harder for him and other musicians to tour. If he wanted to perform at a festival in France, for example, it wouldn’t be easy.

“What they're going to say is, ‘Well, we've got a Binker Golding in London and we've got another guy in Stockholm that's basically the same. Which one are we going to go for?’ ” he says.

A better Brexit deal would include work permits and make it easier for traveling artists to avoid having to pay exorbitant fees, he says.

While superstar artists such as Elton John have been outspoken about the touring regulations, Golding says the restrictions don’t really affect John. But it does affect working middle-class musicians who might struggle to pay the fees.

Playing in Europe in the last five years made up a huge portion of Golding’s income. And people who work behind the scenes in areas such as sound and rig stages rely on touring as well.

Golding says that the U.K. claimed to support entrepreneurship and small businesses, and had they allowed the visa, it would benefit both musicians and the country.

“Instead of saying that, they acted like Stalinists and said, ‘No, no one is allowed to be different. If we're in Brexit, we're all in Brexit together in an extreme fashion.’ And that's it,” he says.

Without work visas, Golding and other musicians will have to obtain a visa for each country they travel to and pay out of pocket for their instruments and equipment.

The ongoing pandemic hasn’t helped matters when it comes to touring. Last year he did around five shows whereas in a normal year, Golding performed more often in two weeks.

“Luckily, financially, my back isn’t too much against the wall, so I can survive,” he says.

But moving forward, Golding isn’t holding out hope that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will do anything to change the regulations.

“I would not say that they are particularly geared toward seeing the arts as a beneficial and profitable area, which it is both," Golding says. "The arts are massively beneficial to humanity — but they can't understand that."

Julia Corcoran produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku RayJeannette Jones adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on February 25, 2021.


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