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,” he said.