Government faces calls to overhaul visa rules for foreign performersDemands of ‘creative and sporting’ category of points-based immigration system leading to cancelled events, say organisers…
A survey by the Greater London Assembly showed that a quarter of all artists who were hired in 2010 to open an exhibition, take part in festivals or play a concert in London were visiting from outside the European Union, and nearly all on temporary tier five short-visit visas.
The GLA survey found that arts organisations faced increased bureaucracy and costs and have had to cancel events at short notice because artists have not been granted visas. Of arts organisations surveyed, 42% said they would work with fewer non-EU artists as a result of the changed immigration regime.
The London mayor, Boris Johnson, said unnecessary bureaucratic burdens should not be put in the way of artists and performers. “With competition from cities like Berlin, Shanghai or Mumbai, we must not jeopardise London’s position as a world creative hub,” he said.
More than 6,700 artists applied under tier five to visit Britain last year. Lord Clancarty, who initiated the Lords debate, said that to come for a few days or a few weeks, artists and performers had to prove they had £800 in a bank account, apply in person, supply biometric details, pay an individual fee and have a sponsor who was also willing to pay a £400 fee.
“The application process is lengthy and tortuous and is often not completed in time. Many applicants can be refused for no obvious reason.
“A growing number of those within the arts and cultural sector believe that there needs to be an ‘artists’ visitor’ route for temporary visits by artists separate from the points system, which would also allow artists’ fees to be paid.
“I do not believe attempts to tinker with or refine tier five is a solution. Artists visiting Britain on a temporary basis is not an immigration issue but about cultural exchange – and it is our worldwide reputation for this which is already being damaged.”