UK visa conditions for artists criticised

27 Jun 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A letter to the Daily Telegraph has called upon the government to implement a new UK visa category for people in the arts and entertainment sector who are having difficulties with working in Britain.

Signed by a number of high profile performers, the letter claims that artists' working visits to the country are being hampered by the UK immigration conditions currently in place.

This is having a negative effect on the four-year push to promote art, performance and literature in the run-up to next year's Olympic Games.

Lord Hall, chair of this culture drive dubbed the Cultural Olympiad, was a signature to the published letter.

"Our great tradition of cultural exchange is being badly damaged through the points-based system, and in the long-term we will doubtless suffer economically," the piece read.

"As we approach the Cultural Olympiad's culminating year, this is a situation that must change."

Among the prominent figures to sign their name to the original letter are Cannes prize-winning director Abbas Kiorastami, author Salman Rushdi and the directors of the National Theatre, the Tate, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Academy.

They added: "Writers and performers who have long been welcomed by the UK now find that they are required to undergo a visa application process that is needlessly bureaucratic and intrusive."

The UK Border Agency has responded the to the claims, stating that artists from around the world "are welcome to perform in the UK".

"As part of our commitment to the industry, we work with organisers of international events to ensure they are aware of the application process and are able to help facilitate urgent cases," the agency's spokesperson added.

"However, as with any visitors to the UK, we expect individuals to meet our entry requirements."