In Wednesday’s (6/3) Times (London), Rosemary Bennett writes, “Stringent new visa controls have brought one ballet company to the brink of collapse and threaten dozens of concerts, festivals and exhibitions. Rules designed to prevent illegal immigration have left international performers struggling to gain access to Britain, a report says. Other artists have decided that it is simply not worth the hassle to travel. It is feared that the new rules could destroy Britain’s reputation as a centre for international arts. … The visa controls are part of the new points-based system for immigration. The rules for touring artists, which came into force in November, include a requirement for each artist to show £800 of savings, and financial support and constant monitoring by a ‘sponsor’ to make sure that they do not abscond during their visit. … In the past artists have been able to obtain, within a few days, a simple short-term visa to tour in Britain. The report, UK Arts and Culture: Cancelled by Order of the Home Office, was compiled by the Manifesto Club, which campaigns against red tape. … It found evidence that more than 20 major events had been cancelled or badly affected by the new system.”

Posted June 4, 2009