Artists 'discouraged' from making UK visa applications

24 Aug 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK visa regulations are so complicated that artists have been subtly discouraged from applying for short trips, it has been suggested.

According to reports in the Independent, a former employee at the Tate Modern claimed that the gallery discouraged foreign visiting artists from applying for UK visas which would allow them to work during their time in the UK.

This was due to the lengthy and bureaucratic processes associated with the application method. The former senior curator of the London gallery told the paper on condition of anonymity: “Artists were not 'encouraged' to come as tourists, but told not to apply for working visas as the requirements for entry in the UK for a short visit - including a simple presentation, for talks and conference participation - and its attached low payment would have been subject to long working visa processing, and that would have made my work impossible.”

The news follows the launch of the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) work permit category, which began operation earlier this month. It is designed to help those at the top of their field in science, sports and the arts gain access to Britain.

While the route received some criticism, primarily due to the cap of 1,000 places, its launch received a relatively warm welcome.

Alan Davey, chief executive of the Arts Council England, said: "The international exchange of artists enriches their art, and I'm sure audiences will welcome the opportunity to experience the finest artistic talent from across the world."

However, the bureaucratic and troublesome application processes remain, so much so that some artists claim to have been put off coming to the country for work because of complications and difficulties within the visa system.