A petition calling for visa-free travel for artists and other creatives in the European Union after Brexit has reached 200,000 signatures.
The petition, which urges the Government to negotiate a “free cultural work permit” to ensure ease of travel throughout the 27 member states, has received high-profile backing in recent days.
Stars including One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson, former Boyzone member Ronan Keating, singer-songwriter Laura Marling and Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess have encouraged their fans to support the campaign online.
The petition reached the milestone as Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally signed the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.
In a statement, the Government said it had pushed for a “more ambitious agreement” on travel for artists after Brexit, but was rejected by the EU.
A spokesperson said: “Short-term visitors to the EU can continue to join business meetings, receive training, and attend sporting and cultural events, amongst other permitted activities, without requiring a visa. Some member states may allow other types of business travel visa-free, so people should check the rules of the country they are travelling to.
“We recognise that there could be some additional processes for those working in creative industries, but we have ensured that the visa application processes for longer-term business travel will be transparent to provide certainty and clarity.”
From January 1, free movement of people between the UK and the EU will end and touring arts professionals will face new rules.
Industry bodies, including trade group UK Music, have warned that performers who have to secure individual visas for each country they visit may face extra costs.
The music sector itself has been hard hit by coronavirus with live performances effectively halted since spring.
The petition’s creator Tim Brennan, a freelancer, said the increased costs could make touring “impossible” for some artists.
He wrote: “After the end of the transition period, we face further hardship when trying to tour the EU on a professional basis, with potentially each country asking for its own visa, that would be valid only for one trip.
“As a freelancer I and many like me travel through the EU countless times a year on different tours and events, this will become impossible due to cost and time if we do not have visa-free travel.”
Parliament will consider the issue for a debate as it has reached the threshold of more than 100,000 signatures.
The petition is online at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/563294/.