Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Musicians Deported by UK Border Agency

The campaign is continuing against the points-based immigration system restricting artists visting the UK (discussed here before) is continuing. The Manifesto Club Visiting Artists Campaign handed in a petition at 10 Downing Street this week against the system, signed by 10,000 people amongst whose names I recognised Sukhdev Sandhu, Michael Moorcock, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Charlie Gillett, and, fantastically, Arthur Brown, God of Hellfire.

They have also produced a dossier, Deported: Artists and academics barred from the UK which highlights many cases, including the following:

'Gabriel Teodros, USA, hip-hop artist: Statement from Gabriel Teodros: “I was invited to the UK by a university to perform and participate in an academic conference, and was detained for eight hours at London-Heathrow before being sent back to the States, for reasons that were unclear. This has personally cost me thousands, ruined months of plans, and your own border agents could not even answer questions regarding your laws. I may tour the entire world but will never fly back into London. These laws are a wall so many artists & educators can not find a way around, the arts and culture in your country will suffer.”

' The Pipe Band, Pakistan, pipe musicians. Members of the Pakistani pipe band – due to perform at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow – were unable to attend when their visa applications were rejected. The World Pipe Band Championships at Glasgow Green is said to be worth an estimated £7 million to the city economy. SNP MSP for Glasgow Anne McLaughlin called on the UK government and Border Agency to reverse their decision. “The Pipe Band are international ambassadors and Glasgow’s Pipe Band Championships is an international celebration. This kind of decision gives Scotland a bad name and shows up the shambles within the UK Border Agency.”'

'Taisha Paggett, USA, dancer and choreographer: A member of collective Ultra-red, visiting the UK to participate in a workshop (legally a ‘business visitor’), was advised by another member who had become aware of confusing new legislation, not to say she was an artist. She followed her fellow member’s advice, but Immigration became suspicious. Searching her luggage, they found a copy of the email with the fellow member’s advice printed out, and deported her from the UK for deception with no right to return for ten years'.

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