sat 15/05/2021

Classical musicians on life after Brexit - 2: violinist Victoria Sayles | reviews, news & interviews

Classical musicians on life after Brexit - 2: violinist Victoria Sayles

Classical musicians on life after Brexit - 2: violinist Victoria Sayles

First sequel to pianist Sophia Rahman's assembly of musical voices on the visa situation

Victoria Sayles: 'I concluded that my only viable route to a sustainable existence lies outside the UK'Dan Johnson; second image of Victoria Sayles in the text by Matthew Johnson

In March 2020, all my work in Australia and Sweden, where I had won contracts for several months to come, was cancelled on the day I was due to fly. Both organisations who had engaged me promptly honoured their contracts with me financially nevertheless.

In March 2020, all my work in Australia and Sweden, where I had won contracts for several months to come, was cancelled on the day I was due to fly. Both organisations who had engaged me promptly honoured their contracts with me financially nevertheless. Thank goodness they did, because as UK tax payers and residents, my partner Roland Palmer and I have, for 10 months now, received zero help from SEISS and UC.

Coincidentally, Roland (pictured below by Dan Wiebe) had a seat as the cellist and guitarist in the West End in a show that came from Broadway, New York, meeting with tremendous success here in London. He was made redundant (similarly to everyone else on the West End) 10 months ago and he too has not been eligible for UC or SEISS..

All our concert contracts in the UK were treated as "frustrated contracts" and my fear, as we move into Brexit, is that the government will be under the illusion that musicians are “adapting” to these new conditions. Without the pandemic we would be noticing the impact of Brexit in other ways, for example in touring however, under these “new normal” circumstances (without any gigs to speak of for several months now) COVID plus Brexit is destroying the industry and debilitating our personal lives. Roland PalmerUnfortunately my frustration and disappointment in the lack of support or even acknowledgement of these issues for musicians has led to the very difficult decision that, for now, I simply cannot remain here full-time: the situation is simply untenable. I therefore auditioned for, and won, a job in Stockholm - taking my expertise and my taxable earnings with me to mainland Europe. I am not the only one who has considered the lack of options and concluded that my only viable route to a sustainable existence lies outside the UK. We are forgotten, literally a dying art.

Incidentally, I live in a beautiful Wiltshire village down the road from our local MP in a resoundingly Conservative area. I have benefited from and embraced my (entire) life in the UK with tremendous gratitude. My difficult decision to leave the UK has come about because of circumstances beyond my control - I am not talking just of the pandemic, but of course the difficulties surrounding Brexit. Victoria Sayles in actionBoris Johnson calls the arts our “soft power”. How can any industry hold any kind of positive power when the rug has been pulled out from underneath us? The government is acting like a fair-weather friend: very happy to share in the prosperity and joy the arts brought for so many years but then turning their backs on us when the call for support becomes politically too loud or inconvenient.

I wish the situation were different. Yet even with the administrative headache of Brexit, the Stockholm organisation has stood strong in its efforts to support a British artist’s transition to mainland Europe despite Brexit.

Many musicians will be asking themselves, like me, why they had go to the other side of the Brexit agreement. Why can I not proudly stay where I have been so happy to reside all my life?’

Watch Victoria Sayles and her partner Roland Palmer perform from home in a film made last summer for the London Mozart Players

Comments

To ignore the fact there is a problem is a terrible solution by the government. Our Representatives owe us more. Well said!

Have the nationalities/ passports of Roland and Victoria purposefully been left out of this article?

Explain, please. Victoria writes early on that they are 'UK tax payers and residents', so I don't know what you want from this.

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