UK visa problems see art events cancelled

21 Mar 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Difficulties in acquiring UK visas are having a detrimental affect on the arts in the UK, research has suggested.

A recent poll conducted by the Greater London Authority found that 42 per cent of arts groups questioned believe that the UK immigration system, which came into force in 2008, has meant that they tend to work with fewer artists from outside of the European Union.

In addition to this, the survey revealed that arts organisations have been forced to cancel events at short notice, when performers were not granted UK visas.

Among the performers to cancel their events was Chinese artist Huang Xu, who was refused a UK visa to attend the opening of his own exhibition at a London gallery.

Russian ballerina Polina Semionova was unable to perform as a guest ballerina at the English National Ballet's 60th anniversary celebrations as her UK visa was not processed in time.

Meanwhile, Cannes-prize winning Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami gave up on his application for a UK visa after being finger printed twice during his application. He had been invited to direct Cosi Fan Tutte at the English National Opera.

The Labour government introduced the points-based system, but changes, due to come into force next month, will further restrict the number of UK work permits and UK visas on offer, as the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government attempts to reduce UK immigration further.

London mayor Boris Johnson commented on the situation: "The entrepreneurial energy, innovation and boldness in London's cultural sector and creative industries, whether it is designer fashion, performing arts, literature or digital media, has largely stemmed from the coming together of peoples and ideas from across the world.

"With competition from cities like Berlin, Shanghai or Mumbai, we must not jeopardise London's position as a world creative hub."