EUROPEAN festivals are failing to book Scots musicians because of Brexit, according to the artistic director of one of Scotland’s biggest cultural events.

Uncertainty over visa requirements and the costs of transporting equipment mean many are not being asked to appear next summer, when they normally would have expected invitations to perform.

“There are still concerns over Brexit, particularly for musicians in this country,” said Donald Shaw. “We know European festivals next summer are not booking the artists they would have done in the past because we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know if they will have to pay additional visa costs or pay for equipment going in and out of Europe.”

He said that unless “something fantastic” happens in Scotland, the problems caused by Brexit for the cultural industry will continue.

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While these will not impact directly on the forthcoming Celtic Connections, which opens in January, Shaw said the result of the General Election meant uncertainty over visas and costs would not go away.

When organising the 2020 festival, he said he found many American performers were “uncomfortable” about coming as they often tie in appearances in the UK with performances elsewhere in Europe and were worried that this would no longer be straightforward and would also be more expensive.

“They felt that politically anything could happen at any point because of Brexit,” he said. “Nothing was made clear to anyone. There was nothing written down about what it might mean in terms of visas and equipment. When we were organising the festival back in August and September there were so many unknowns it could have ended up being expensive if they had to pay for equipment going in and out of Europe. It was a concern for everyone. It has not changed the face of the festival but it has had an effect and it will mean extra work.

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“There are still concerns and unless something fantastic happens in Scotland these will continue.”

As well as uncertainty over Brexit, Shaw said he was frustrated by the attitude of the UK authorities with regards to visas for performers from Africa and India.

“They are treated very badly in the application process and it is all about suspicion rather than welcome from the UK,” he said.

“I would like to see some positive changes on that when musicians are considering travelling from the other side of the world to come and perform here. It does not send out a great message when they have to fill out 20 pages of forms and pay fees and get the general feeling that they are not being made welcome.

“We have to try to lobby the UK Government as much as possible to make them see that culture is a massive million-pound industry in this country and they are shooting themselves in the foot if they make it ­difficult for that industry to survive and grow.”

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Shaw predicted there is likely to be a political undercurrent at this year’s Celtic Connections because of the election results and the fact that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is committed to Brexit.

“Folk music by its nature is a political music movement and artists will make statements on the stage,” he said. “That goes with the territory. Certain artists are more inclined to do that than others but generally the movement is quite left-leaning so I expect a certain amount of unrest in the ranks going by the current political landscape. That is part and parcel of the music as it is music of the people, not the music of the elite.”

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While there were additional complications caused by Brexit when organising the forthcoming festival, Shaw is more than happy with the quality of the line-up and the artists who are appearing.

Despite the problems there is still a strong international element including, as always, a generous helping of Americana with Iris DeMent, Jacob Jolliff and Sierra Hull among the stars.

There is also Kentucky-born violinist Tessa Lark who will be performing the European premiere of Sky, a Grammy-nominated concerto written specially for her by acclaimed US composer Michael Torke. At the same show, Scottish harpist and multi-instrumentalist Phamie Gow will perform her own award-winning composition, Lammermuir, in a new symphonic collaboration featuring Alasdair Fraser and Mairi Campbell. With orchestration from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, it takes place at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 30.

For the first time Celtic Connections is branching out to the south side of Glasgow with three shows at Tramway including Les Amazones D’Afrique, the West African supergroup dedicated to ending women’s inequality and oppression, who will launch their new album, Amazones Power, on January 25 at the venue.

French Cameroonian singer Valerie Ekoume is performing with Syrian Ayman Jarjour ,who now lives in Scotland, at Drygate Brewery on January 18 while there is a special project involving six guest artists from Finland who will be performing at the festival. The strand includes Finnish band Frigg performing with up-and-coming Glasgow band Imar at the City Halls on February 1.

Closer to home there is a 25th-anniversary celebration on the same night at the Old Fruitmarket of Edinburgh’s Salsa Celtica, who combine Scots trad with salsa, and there is a unique gathering of the creme de la creme of Scottish indie, folk, rock and pop talent such as Karine Polwart, ex-Delgado Emma Pollock, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite and Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch to honour the legacy of the late Scottish humourist, poet, philosopher and surrealist Ivor Cutler at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 29. As ever, there is a focus on young, homegrown talent with 70 pipers, fiddlers and singers coming from the Western Isles for Dileab on January 17 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s New Auditorium.

In addition, young Gaelic song trio Sian are in concert with Breton counterparts Eben at the City Halls on January 24.

“The festival has been going for 27 years and if we are going to continue for another 27 then we have to encourage the young ones coming through. These are exciting times for that,” said Shaw.

Celtic Connections runs from January 16 until February 2