Friday 26 November 2010

Let them in!

Worries this week that the UK visa system is jeopardising the London art scene.
Munira Mirza, the London Mayor’s advisor on arts and culture reports that more and more often artists, musicians and others involved in the arts are being refused entry to the UK because of their failure to comply with the draconian UK visa rules.

These rules include that organisations who wish to invite non-EU artists are required to register and pay $400 to sponsor the artists. Then, the artists have to comply with certain rules and targets, including proving that they have sufficient funds in their bank accounts. Often extremely difficult for artists, the profession not being one of the most highly remunerated for the majority.

If artists are allowed to enter, they have been told that if they on a visitor’s visa, but bring materials such as sketchbooks, musical instruments (basically anything that may be classified as the “tools of their trade”), they are not allowed to “make art” while they are here, as this is classified as “work” and the conditions of visitor visa’s are, obviously, that you do not work.

The result of these measures is a loss both to the arts organisations and the public, as well as to the British cultural scene in general. Surely there is a better way forward.

Source: The Evening Standard, 23 November 2010

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