Why the Art World Needs to Stand Up to the UK’s ‘Humiliating’ Immigration Demands – 为什么艺术界需要面对英国“屈辱”的移民需求

Opinion - 16 Aug 2018

Why the Art World Needs to Stand Up to the UK’s ‘Humiliating’ Immigration Demands

With authors, curators and musicians recently denied entry, the UK is fast painting itself as a cultural pariah

By Chris Sharratt

The UK’s ‘hostile environment’ policy towards those seeking to come to the country is beginning to make it look like a cultural pariah, and its historical ‘special relationship’ with an inward-looking, Trump-damaged US isn’t helping. The recent visa debacle at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is, says its director Nick Barley, a clear indication that there’s something rotten at the heart of the system – and that the UK’s arts community needs to pull together and do something about it.

Barley’s comments come after 12 writers from the Middle East and Africa were initially refused entry to attend the festival. All have since secured their visas, although the last to do so, Palestinian writer Nayrouz Qarmout, was granted entry too late to appear at her scheduled event. (A new, later appearance is being specially organized by the festival). The writers’s visa refusals were only overturned after interventions from officials at the British Council, Scottish government and the Home Office itself – a convoluted process that is clearly unsustainable, as Barley explains: ‘If that’s what it takes to get visa refusals overturned then we are wasting a lot of good people’s time and we’ve got to find a different way of doing it […] We’ve got to act, we’ve got to change the system now, otherwise we’ll damage Britain’s future cultural offering immeasurably.’

Edinburgh International Book Festival. Courtesy: Edinburgh International Book Festival; photograph: Alan McCredie

Why the Art World Needs to Stand Up to the UK’s ‘Humiliating’ Immigration Demands - 为什么艺术界需要面对英国“屈辱”的移民需求

Edinburgh International Book Festival. Courtesy: Edinburgh International Book Festival; photograph: Alan McCredie

There is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed when writers, illustrators and musicians invited to appear at a long-established, internationally recognized annual festival are being treated with such disdain. Says Barley: ‘What we are seeing now is a systemic problem arising, in that there appears to be an instruction to find whatever reason you can to refuse the visa. Over the last two years we’ve seen a really significant increase in the number of rejections we’re getting.’

Other recent high-profile examples of the UK government’s anti-immigration agenda impacting on international cultural exchange include July’s Womad (World of Music, Art and Dance) festival, which this year saw musicians from Tunisia, Mozambique and Niger prevented from coming to the country. Indian sisters Hashmat Sultana were eventually granted visas but were delayed to such an extent that they arrived 24 hours after they were scheduled to perform. More recently, three Egyptian curators have fallen foul of the system after applying for visas to attend the International Council of Museums’s annual conference on Egyptology at the Egypt Centre in Swansea in September. One of them, Abdelrahman Othman, a curator at Cairo’s National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, said of the refusal: ‘I didn’t see a reason to refuse it. I have a family in Egypt, I’m a PhD candidate and a government employee, and I have a good travel history.’

Womad 2018. Courtesy: Womad; photograph: Victor Frankowski

Why the Art World Needs to Stand Up to the UK’s ‘Humiliating’ Immigration Demands - 为什么艺术界需要面对英国“屈辱”的移民需求

Womad 2018. Courtesy: Womad; photograph: Victor Frankowski

Occasional visa refusals are nothing new and have been something many in the arts have had to deal with routinely in the past. But Barley and others sense a shifting agenda and a Kafkaesque slipperiness when it comes to applicants providing the ‘correct’ information to satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration department. And while an organization like the Edinburgh International Book Festival has the profile and contacts to eventually get refusals overturned, such an outcome can’t be taken for granted. As has been demonstrated by Womad, even an established event founded more than 35 years ago by internationally-renowned British music star Peter Gabriel and billed as ‘The world’s festival’ is not immune from the desire to say ‘No’. What chance then for much smaller arts organisations – an artist-led gallery for example – if they find that invited overseas artists are unable to get a visa?

This growing sense of the UK shutting its doors to the wider cultural world is not just impacting on the arts organizations doing the inviting. It’s also sending a message to those being invited that the country would rather they stayed at home; that this island nation is developing a closed mentality at odds with a rich and international cultural scene. And by making the application process so time-consuming and the likelihood of a refusal much higher, the clear danger is that those invited will simply start saying ‘No’ themselves – rather than, as Barley puts it, ‘be humiliated’ by the system. The narrative that the UK is a difficult place to come to has already taken hold among many international writers, says Barley. Gabriel too has stated that, for the first time, artists have declined invitations to perform at Womad this year, a development he has linked to the tougher visa application process.

Nick Barley, Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Courtesy: Edinburgh International Book Festival

Why the Art World Needs to Stand Up to the UK’s ‘Humiliating’ Immigration Demands - 为什么艺术界需要面对英国“屈辱”的移民需求

Nick Barley, Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Courtesy: Edinburgh International Book Festival

The looming reality of a no-deal Brexit and the increasing ‘us and them’ political agenda in relation to the UK and the rest of Europe, suggests that new challenges for arts organizations and artists lie ahead, too. A recent House of Lords committee report has stressed the importance of freedom of movement to the cultural sector and proposed a reciprocal short-term ‘touring visa’ for UK-EU arts workers. Yet are calls from the cultural sector even being listened to amid the noise and confusion that surround the ongoing Brexit negotiations? Barley, understandably, worries about what the worst-case scenario could mean for the country’s cultural life: ‘If European artists, authors, musicians, and performers are going to need visas in the same way as people from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, then Brexit will further damage this country’s reputation as a place which used to be open – but no longer feels that way.’

Main image: Hashmat Sultana at Womad, 2018. Courtesy: Womad

Chris Sharratt

Chris Sharratt is a freelance writer and editor based in Glasgow. 

Opinion
UK
Immigration
Womad
Chris Sharratt
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Art & Politics


意见- 16八月2018为什么艺术世界需要忍受英国的“屈辱”移民要求,作者,策展人和音乐家最近拒绝进入,英国正在迅速画自己作为文化贱民。Chris Sharratt对英国的“敌对环境”政策开始使它看起来像一个文化贱民,它的历史性“特殊关系”和内向的特朗普破坏了我们的帮助。爱丁堡国际图书节最近的签证失败是,它的主管Nick Barley说,这清楚地表明,这个系统的核心部分有点烂,英国的艺术界需要团结起来,并为此做点什么。大麦的评论来自12位来自中东和非洲的作家最初拒绝参加这个节日。所有的人都得到了他们的签证,虽然最后一次这样做,巴勒斯坦作家Nayrouz Qarmout,获准进入太晚出现在她预定的事件。(一个新的,后来的外观是专门组织的节日)。在英国议会、苏格兰政府和内政部官员的干预下,这些作家的签证拒绝只是被推翻了——这是一个明显不可持续的复杂过程,正如大麦所解释的:“如果这就是阻止签证拒签的原因。”我们浪费了很多好人的时间,我们必须找到一种不同的方式去做…………我们必须采取行动,我们现在必须改变制度,否则我们将严重损害英国未来的文化提供。“爱丁堡国际图书节”。礼貌:爱丁堡国际图书节;图片:Alan McCredie WPA6021602IMG爱丁堡国际图书节。礼貌:爱丁堡国际图书节;照片:Alan McCredie显然是一个需要解决的问题,当作家、插图画家和音乐家被邀请出现在一个早已建立的、国际公认的一年一度的节日上时,正受到这样的对待。轻蔑。大麦说:“我们现在看到的是一个系统性的问题,因为似乎有一个指示,你可以找到任何理由拒绝签证。在过去的两年里,我们看到的拒签数量有了显著的增加。“英国政府的反移民议程对国际文化交流的影响最近的例子包括七月的《妇女》(音乐、艺术和舞蹈世界)。今年,突尼斯、莫桑比克和尼日尔的音乐家都不来这个国家。印度姐妹Hasad Sultina最终获得签证,但被推迟到他们预定演出24小时后到达的程度。最近,三名埃及馆长因申请签证参加了九月在埃及斯旺西举行的埃及埃及博物馆年会国际会议而犯规。其中一位是开罗埃及文明国家博物馆的馆长Abdelrahman Othman,他说:“我没有理由拒绝。”我有一个家庭在埃及,我是一个博士候选人和政府雇员,我有一个良好的旅行历史。礼貌:Woad;照片:Victor Frankowski WPA6022602IMG WOWAD 2018。礼貌:Woad;照片:Victor Frankowski偶尔的签证拒签并不是什么新鲜事,而且是许多艺术界以往不得不处理的事情。但大麦和其他人感觉到一个变化的议程和卡夫卡滑稽,当申请人提供“正确”的信息,以满足英国签证和入境事务处。虽然像爱丁堡国际图书节这样一个组织的形象和联系人最终会被拒绝,但这样的结果是不能想当然的。正如Woad所展示的,即使是35多年前由国际知名的英国音乐明星彼得·盖布瑞尔创立的一个既定事件,被称为“世界音乐节”并不能免除“拒绝”的愿望。那么,对于那些规模较小的艺术组织——比如以艺术家为主导的画廊——如果他们发现被邀请的海外艺术家无法获得签证,还有什么机会?越来越多的人认为英国关门到更广阔的文化世界不仅仅是对艺术团体的邀请产生影响。它也向那些被邀请的国家传递信息,他们宁愿呆在家里;这个岛国正在发展一种封闭的心态,与丰富多彩的国际文化景象相悖。通过使申请过程如此耗时,拒绝的可能性更高,明显的危险是那些被邀请的人会简单地开始说“不”,而不是像大麦所说的那样,被系统“羞辱”。大麦说,英国是一个很难到达的地方,这一说法已经在许多国际作家中占有一席之地。加布里埃尔也指出,艺术家们第一次拒绝邀请女性参加今年的婚礼,这是他与更严格的签证申请过程相关的发展。Nick Barley,爱丁堡国际图书节主任。礼貌:爱丁堡国际图书节WPAP602602IMG尼克大麦,爱丁堡国际图书节主任。礼貌:爱丁堡国际图书节即将到来的现实是一个没有成交的BrxIT和越来越多的“美国和他们”的政治议程,涉及英国和欧洲其他国家,这意味着艺术组织和艺术家面临新的挑战。最近一个上院议员委员会的报告强调了行动自由对文化部门的重要性,并提出了一个互惠的短期“旅游签证”为UK-EU艺术工作者。然而,在围绕正在进行的BrxIT谈判中的噪音和混乱中,文化部门的呼声甚至被倾听了吗?大麦,可以理解的是,担心最坏的情况对这个国家的文化生活意味着什么:“如果欧洲的艺术家、作家、音乐家和表演者需要像中东、非洲和拉丁美洲的人一样的签证,那么Brexit将进一步的DAMA。这个国家的名声一直是开放的,但现在不再有这种感觉。“主要形象是:2018岁的沃希姆苏塔纳。礼貌:WORD克里斯SalaTt克里斯Salrt是一个自由撰稿人和编辑总部设在格拉斯哥。意见英国IM迁徙妇女克里斯夏拉特爱丁堡国际图书节艺术与政治


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