Cultural area touring permit across multiple geographic groupings in Europe

The current touring crisis facing the music sector has to end. Facilitating live shows and touring is our best shot at recovery across the multiple geographical groupings that make up the greater European region. 

Reducing the costs and administrative burden of current work permit schemes and custom arrangements for cultural touring is key, particularly for grass roots, emerging, and niche artists. 

IMPALA and IAO propose an approach that involves creating a new cultural area with a single touring permit, instead of treating Europe as a number of distinct blocs and countries. The music market is geographic and covers all countries and economic/political groupings in the region including EU, EFTA, interested EU neighbouring countries like the Western Balkans, as well as individual countries such as the UK.  

Known as the GECAT Pass (for Geographical European Cultural Area Touring), the idea is to get small and medium sized music tours back on the road quickly and efficiently. See more below, one-pager available here.

The GECAT Pass involves 4 core elements:

1. Single travel permit for cultural touring for performers and support teams

  • Annual and renewable work permit for creative workers on tour
  • Multiple geographical groupings making up the Geographical European Cultural Area 
  • Single application in home country
  • Could limit the number of people per tour to cap eligible production size 

2. Single customs licence for equipment (“carnet”)

  • Reduced admin burden with a single check at first and last border
  • Including limited amount of stock to be sold at events without trading permits
  • Light touch regime, proportionate to the economic value
  • Let small scale tours happen easily – and legally 

3. Allow multiple stops before going home

  • Unlimited stops for equipment and people who are involved in cultural touring activity – could limit number and size of vehicles per tour for scale
  • Inclusion of dual use vehicles for people and goods (eg ‘splitter vans’)
  • Legalise normal cultural touring activity – especially for smaller tours

4.  Home country VAT on merchandise sold at events 

  • VAT paid in home country on return, for the small amounts included in customs licence

The key benefits of a GECAT Pass would be: 

Promote cultural exchange across multiple geographical blocs and countries

  • Promote diversity and mobility of talent and repertoire
  • Promote post-pandemic economic and social recovery
  • Increase opportunities for niche and emerging artists
  • Reduce admin and costs for emerging artists and small scale productions
  • Put solid and reliable framework around touring
  • Promote co-operation, security and peace 
  • Reduce carbon footprint from touring by promoting more smaller tours

Please read our statement, underlining that ALL artists should have the right to get back on tour, here.
Make sure to also read to our one-pager, available here.
For a visual overview of the GECAT pass core elements, have a look at our infographic.

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

Rue des Deux Eglises 37-39, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

+32 2 503 31 38