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Huntly singer Iona Fyfe and SNP candidate back a call for visa free travel for musicians

By Pat Scott

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Huntly-born Scots singer Iona Fyfe, one of Scotland’s top musicians, has joined forces with Aberdeenshire West SNP candidate,Fergus Mutch, calling for touring musicians to have visa free travel across Europe.

Fyfe, a former Scots Singer of the Year and BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalist, said the UK government is putting livelihoods at risk following its “narrow minded” decision to exclude professional musicians and performers from the list of workers permitted to enter the EU without a visa.

SNP candidate and piper Fergus Mutch warned of the grave risk to Scotland’s standing throughout Europe, with Scottish musicians and artists acting as cultural ambassadors at events and music festivals across the continent - showcasing the best of what our country has to offer.

Iona Fyfe and Fergus Mutch have added their names to a petition launched by Tim Brennan which has already more than doubled the 100,000 signatures required to secure a House of Commons debate. The petition urges the UK government to negotiate a free cultural work permit allowing visa free travel throughout the 27 EU member states for touring musicians, bands and artists.

Iona Fyfe said: “Visa costs and taxes on importing merchandise into Europe before a tour even begins will simply make it financially unviable to tour in Europe.

“Covid-19, plus the effects of Brexit, have been a double blow for the music industry.

“So many musicians rely on touring in Europe to sustain their income.

“It’s a great shame that this will no longer be feasible — not to mention the loss of the huge benefits in cultural exchange and sharing traditions.”

Aberdeenshire West SNP candidate Fergus Mutch added: “The shoddy Brexit deal we’ve seen materialise in recent days is miles out of tune with the needs of Scotland’s musicians and artists.

“Performers in particular have suffered a massive blow this year with work, touring and income effectively on hold because of covid-19. Creating more barriers will truly devastate the sector.

“We should be opening doors for them to tour, to make a living and to showcase the depth of Scotland’s talent and creativity to the world. Sadly the Tories have failed yet again in recognising the value of music and the arts.

“The UK government must negotiate visa free travel for professional musicians as a matter of urgency. Failure to act would be nothing short of insular, shortsighted and spiteful.”

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