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 Ismael Ludman and Maria Mondino were refused entry at Glasgow in April this year and pianist Grigory Sokolov has refused to submit to fingerprinting and eye scans every time he applies for a visa to visit the UK.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/10/musicians-immigration-britain-cultural-backwater  The Observer,10th July 2011 and seehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/10/visa-immigration-boycott-poet