04 June 2009

UK visa restrictions killing culture: Manifesto Club

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The new UK visa system is causing the arts and culture scene damage, according to the Manifesto Club.

The Manifesto Club is referring to the tough new UK visa restrictions placed on artists applying to temporarily enter the UK to perform in the arts arena.  The report 'UK Arts and Culture: Cancelled, by Order of the Home Office' details how the new UK visa points-based system is affecting the arts and educational scene and unduly preventing international performers and academics from visiting the UK for talks, concerts, and performances.

For example, after 11 years of performance in Swansea, the Russian-dominated Ballet Russe dance company has had to close up shop because six star ballet dancers from Russia could not get their UK work permit renewed to perform in Wales.

Russian classical pianist Grigory Sokolov had to cancel two high-profile concerts, while Canadian singer Allison Crowe also struggled to re-enter the UK and was told to not only return to Canada, but that she would not be able to ever play in Britain again.

Several academic talks and international lecture series are no longer going ahead, and non-EU academics and artists say that they will not use the UK as their stage.

The report from the Manifesto Club is essentially working on behalf of the smaller companies and individuals that have suffered from the new UK visa system and have not been able to continue with their usual lectures and performances in the UK.

Over 6,000 people have signed the Manifesto's petition, and hundreds of people have sent the campaigners testimonies of their disconcerting experiences with the new UK visa system. 

The Manifesto stated: "These new regulations will do little to stop terrorists – who are unlikely to go through official channels - but are instead hampering UK arts organisations that are already struggling in a recession.

"We call on the Home Office to urgently reconsider the new immigration points-based system, and to carry out a thorough review of its effects - before more damage is done to Britain’s artistic and intellectual life, and international relationships."


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