A SCOTTISH pro-EU campaign group has held a musical event to highlight key issues experienced by musicians since Brexit.

The European Movement in Scotland (EMiS) held a “busk against Brexit” event on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh today, April 16, to kickstart their campaign "Face the Music".

Campaigners are calling for the UK Government to "face the music and find a solution" to issues facing musicians on tour in Europe after Brexit.

Musicians from all backgrounds were invited to join EMiS to make some noise and raise awareness that Brexit has made touring Europe for artists “almost impossible”.

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David Clarke, chair of the EMiS, said: “Music matters in so many ways but especially because it encourages communication between peoples from different experiences and cultures.

“The music sector in Scotland is also a wonderful example of our soft power, and is a showcase for our country internationally.

“What Brexit has done is blow up a cultural bridge been ourselves and our European partners because it now makes it almost impossible or unaffordable for Scottish musicians to bring their creativity on tour to Europe.

“Our event today highlights this as a key issue for a key sector."

Buskers and campaigners gathered outside the City Chambers and moved later in the afternoon to the Scottish Parliament to protest and gather signatures for their petition.

The National:

The SNP MSP Michelle Thomson (above), who sits as convener in the cross-party group on music in the Scottish Parliament, joined buskers outside Holyrood

She told The National that Brexit had severely impacted the livelihoods of professional musicians in Scotland. 

"I would argue that one of the sectors that's been most significantly affected  by Brexit is arts and culture - and particularly music.

"I'm a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I'm a former professional musician, and I feel very passionately about protecting our musicians, who already often struggle to make a decent living, but now can no longer tour without great cost, expense and paperwork.

"But it's not just people not being able to make their living. There's a whole infrastructure around how people do that which has been impacted. 

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"Take, for example, music venues. Because of the cost of living crisis, which has been made worse by Brexit, lots of small venues have been closing because they just can't make the numbers work.

"That means that they close to musicians don't have anywhere to perform. That means they can't make their living. So, it permeates every element of our economy. If we lose that critical infrastructure, it takes generations to get that back." 

The campaign was launched following several leading musicians having already spoken out publicly about the challenges they have faced when touring Europe.

Big-name artists who have spoken out publicly on the issues Brexit has caused include Biffy Clyro, KT Tunstall, and Nicola Bendetti.

Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, the principal of the Royal Academy of Music, has also criticised Brexit's cultural impact.

He said the proportion of European students at the London Academy had fallen by half since 2016 and warned Brexit had “stopped the flow of talent coming in”.

The principal said Brexit had brought no benefits and instead may cause “terminal damage” to the UK’s music industry.

He said: “The whole idea of boundaries and not being able to travel and not being able to collaborate with people from different countries is totally alien to the concept of being a professional musician.”