Italian band Soviet Soviet deported from US en route to SXSW
Immigration , Live Events / April 2017

IMMIGRATION Live events sector      Tighter visa restrictions on performers for South by Southwest showcase performances entering the USA first surfaced when Italian band Soviet Soviet posted a lengthy statement on Facebook on Friday after being refused entry en route to their (unpaid) show. The band say that they were handcuffed and detained overnight after being deemed illegal immigrants because border officials said they had incorrect travel documentation. The band had been travelling on the visa waiver programme ESTA, which allows citizens of nearly 40 countries to travel to the US for 90 days on business or leisure without requiring a visa. However, travellers must not earn money in the US during their stay.  Apart from SXSW, the band had a number of other promotional performances scheduled, including a showcase at Seattle radio station KEXP – but not for payment, and the band said “We knew that if we were to receive any compensation we would have had to apply for work visas. This was not the case and the people we spoke to for information told us we would be fine. The point is that the control agents – who did a quick check on the concerts we informed them of –…

UK visa scheme under heavy fire
Artists , Immigration , Live Events / August 2011

IMMIGRATION Artistes, live events industry Ian Birrell, co-founder of Africa Express with Damon Albarn and former Deputy Editor of the Independent newspaper, has launched a blistering attack on the UK’s Border Agency handling of international musician’s visits to the UK saying it will turn Britain into a ‘cultural backwater’. Ian highlights the Wu Tang Clan’s recent treatment when they arrived in the UK to tour and play Glastonbury when the band said that they were treated like ‘The Taliban’ and acclaimed Indian musician Rhagu Dixit who missed a festival in Glasgow after visa delays and only managed to perform on Later with Jools after help from a supportive MP.  Ian also highlighted and the plight of Idrissa Soumaoro, who should have been rehearsing for the much anticipated Amadou and Mariam tour when the article was written, but was stuck in a hotel in Senegal waiting for UK visa paperwork to be completed. In another article by the Observer’s Arts and Medias Correspondent Vanessa Thorpe, it became clear that a number of artistes are ruling Britain out of future touring plans because of the difficulties in obtaining visas. Russian ballerina Ploina Semionova was almost unable to perform with the English National Ballet in June 2010 because of visa problems. Argentinian dancers…

‘Daily nightmare’ of Border Agency’s visa rules for foreign artists and performers
Immigration , Live Events / April 2011

IMMIGRATION Live events The case of an American cellist, Kristin Ostling, who was sent back to Chicago by British immigration officials when she came to the UK to take part in an unpaid recital, has fuelled demands for an overhaul of the visa system for visiting artists and musicians. Ostling, who was due to perform at Leeds University, was subjected to eight hours of questioning before being told she was taking work away from UK musicians and sent home. Her case was highlighted in a recent House of Lords debate as evidence of the difficulties routinely faced by visiting artists and performers since the introduction in 2008 of the tier five “creative and sporting” category of the points-based immigration system. The demands to overhaul the system of artist and cultural visas follow complaints from leading arts figures, including Lady Bakewell, that such cases are no longer isolated incidents but the “daily nightmares” of concert planners and theatre managers across Britain. 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,”…