Brexit’s twisted/twisting shadow is making it harder to book acts according to the WOMAD festival director Chris Smith.

“We are struggling to overcome [Brexit] and let artists know they are welcome here and [that] people still want to experience their great music,” Smith told the Guardian newspaper.

“Lots of [performers] are finding they can get to Europe but fear taking the next step to the UK, particularly if there is there is no passport union. It will become more complicated. When we are out of the EU the passport arrangements will change, so artists coming from wherever will get into Europe but worry they then won’t be able to cross the Channel.”

Founded in 1980 by Peter Gabriel, WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is built around cultural celebration and diversity. While it has a UK hub, the festival tours internationally too and has its eye pressed right to the glass in terms of Brexit’s potential for putting barriers in the way.


“Some artists are saying they might not bother applying [for a visa],” Smith said. “My programme manager is in regular dialogue, offering them reassurance, [but] recent events have not made that easier.”

“Our world music festival was established with the specific intent of featuring all the richness and magic of our cultural differences. Meanwhile, across the globe we’re watching cynical politicians growing powerful on a diet of fear and hate,” Gabriel said as the first WOMAD 2019 acts, including Ziggy Marley and Orbital, were unveiled.

Paul Allott is a director and co-founder of Event Industry News, Event Tech Live and the Event Technology Awards.