By Owen Bowcott
Artists, authors and academics from overseas are regularly being refused permission to enter the UK under the government's points-based visa system, according to a dossier of cases to be presented to Downing Street tomorrow.
Writers have been prevented from attending their book launches, painters deported for carrying their own works and a Pakistani band banned from attending the World Pipe Band championship in Glasgow, according to the civil rights group, Manifesto Club.
A petition opposing the visa restrictions is to be handed into the prime minister's office tomorrow. It has been signed by prominent figures, such as the sculptor Antony Gormley, the director of the National theatre, Nicholas Hytner, the lawyer Lady Kennedy and the poet Blake Morrison, as well as 10,000 others.
An accompanying dossier, naming those turned away over the past year, records their anger and disappointment. "This is an account of talent stopped at our borders, which has left the country all the poorer," the petition says.
It adds: "This is a small selection of the thousands who have had to endure the absurd stringencies of the UK Border Agency since the points-based visa system was introduced. We call not for special treatment for these individuals, but the overturning of the system as a whole."
Among cases documented are that of the Chinese artist Huang Xu, who was refused a visa to attend the opening of his exhibition at the October gallery in London and the South African illustrator, Nikhil Singh, who was unable to attend his own book launch.
UK Border Agency official Jeremy Oppenheim said: "We welcome the contribution of creative artists, but it's important everyone plays by the rules."
The Home Office said that it had worked closely with the arts community in developing new regulations.
Source: The Manifesto Club
Petition against Home Office restrictions on non-EU artists and academics
The Home Office recently introduced new restrictions on international artists and academics visiting the UK for talks, temporary exhibitions, concerts or artists' residencies. Visitors now have to submit to a series of arduous and expensive proceedures to get their visa, and then more bureaucratic controls when they are in the UK. Already a series of concerts and residencies have been cancelled.
The Manifesto Club is coordinating a campaign against these regulations. The campaign is led by Manick Govinda, artists' adviser at Artsadmin, and has won support from artists, musicians, gallery directors, academics and students. Together we call for these parochial and suspicious regulations to be reconsidered, and affirm the vital contribution made by global artists and scholars to UK cultural and intellectual life.
- NCA's Fact-Sheet on the new regulations; UCU guide on point-scoring
- Manick Govinda in the Feburary issue of Blueprint, and a-n magazine
- 'Russian pianist's concert cancelled due to visa rules', in the Independent
- 'Something to Declare', in the Independent
- Fight for Your One-Worlder Party, National Arts Journalism programme blog
- Immigration system takes toll on arts, Guardian
- The Home Office boasts about deporting a Turkish magician
- The Manifesto Club campaign is covered in Russia Today, and also by Royal Opera House chief Tony Hall in the Daily Telegraph
- See the petition, of Goldsmith staff and students against the regulations
- A wiki, No Spying on Students
- The blogspot Universities without Borders
- Petition Against EU VISA Discrimination of Musicians
- Christian Michel's Manifesto Club Thinkpiece, A People's Immigration Policy