The organiser of Womad world music festival has revealed that gaining a UK visa has become so “difficult and humiliating” since Britain voted to leave the EU that many musicians and other performers are no longer willing to travel.
Chris Smith has stated that it is becoming difficult to convince performers to attend his festival due to the impact the vote has had on the UK visa process and suggests it could have a significant impact on the ability of festival organisers to keep their events going in the future.
“The world has never needed events like Womad more than it does now,” he said. “It stands for tolerance and understanding and learning and openness but that culture is being crushed as politicians lurch to the right.”
According to Smith, performers from 128 countries are scheduled to perform at his 2018 festival, but many have been forced to withdraw due to difficulties with the UK visa process.
“Artists have accepted our invitation and then looked into the visa process and told us, sorry we're just not going to do this,“ he said.”
“We’ve had situations where, say, an African artist has been due to come who plays a particularly rare instrument, and we’ll be asked: ‘Can’t you find someone in the UK who plays that instrument?’, which is absurd.“
Smith added that many artists have stated that they are not willing to tackle the UK immigration system at all, stating that it is too difficult, expensive and humiliating. He added: “That's a situation we should be ashamed of.”