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EU Referendum: what now after the vote to leave?

Sarah Sharples 1 July 2016
EU Referendum: what now after the vote to leave?

As the shock wears off after Britain voted to leave the European Union, uncertainty has set in as to what it will actually mean for the country and industries.

Pro-audio veteran Fred Heuves, of the Netherlands, spent several decades touring all over Europe – and in the UK in particular – supplying PA and bands including the Cocteau Twins, Joy Division and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Heuves said, “Brexit will hurt the entertainment industry in a lot of ways. Organising tours in Europe will become complicated due to all kind of restrictions: no travelling freely for instance; and the costs, also due to the rate of the pound, will increase enormously. It is really bad news for the touring industry.”

Michael Ryan, chairman of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, also believes that it could lead to disaster for the UK entertainment industry, particularly due to the amount of uncertainty surrounding the issue.

“The decision to exit the European Union is a major blow to the UK film and TV industry. Producing films and television programmes is a very expensive and very risky business and certainty about the rules affecting the business is a must,” he said.

“This decision has just blown up our foundation… we no longer know how our relationships with co-producers, financiers and distributors will work, whether new taxes will be dropped on our activities in the rest of Europe or how production financing is going to be raised without any input from European funding agencies.”

But Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, which represents the UK recorded music industry, was more positive about the move, saying that although he agrees that there will now be a period of uncertainty, this could lead to new opportunities for the government when working on behalf of artists.

“We will, of course, press the government to swiftly negotiate trade deals that will ensure unimpeded access to EU markets for our music and our touring artists,” he said.

Drew Hill, managing director of Proper Music Group said he’d be “surprised if anyone knows exactly how this is going to play out”.

“My gut feeling is that, in the medium to long term, we may see an increased administrative burden placed on dealings with our European partners, which would in turn lead to increased costs to customers and suppliers,” he said.

But veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith dismissed concerns about how the change could affect the business.

“I don’t believe it’s going to affect the music business that much,” he said.

“Because we have to do enough bloody paperwork as it is with taxes and all that kind of business that we have to deal with on the road in Europe. It’s still exactly the same from a live perspective and I personally hope that we end up with a strong enough leadership who can go in and completely renegotiate a proper deal with Europe, now we’re not paying for a bureaucracy that we don’t need.”

Mark Mulligan of music-focused market research company MIDiA told IQ Magazine that the vote “ushers in a period of the unknown”, the outcome of which depends largely on the attitudes of those left behind. “The transition will be a lot smoother if the prevailing attitude is one of wanting to minimise regional disruption than if they want to give the UK a bloody nose,” he said. “Both scenarios are strong possibilities.”

Uncertainty about the duration of negotiations required to arrange post-EU trade agreements and the future perception of UK-headquartered businesses, both in terms of manufacturing and touring/installation service provision, are chief concerns in the pro audio industry.

In terms of industry-relevant standards such as EN54 parts 16 and 24, the UK would continue to have input to the (currently ongoing) revision of these standards, but influence over fresh developments in the future will be dramatically reduced.

With a new prime minister not expected to launch formal exit proceedings until at least October, uncertainty surrounding the decision will continue to prevail.

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