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Britons in a huff over anti-artist immigration laws
Posted: June 03, 2009, 4:35 PM by Lia Grainger


British politicians and members of the UK media are angry about new anti-terrorist and illegal immigration laws that target non-EU artists and academics visiting the UK to tour or speak.  The outrage was sparked in part by Vancouver Island musician Allison Crowe, who was denied entry to the country at Gatwick airport in late May. 

Crowe had performed in England numerous previous times without incident, and arrived at Gatwick airport unaware of new laws that require special visas for foreign artists and academics, visas only obtainable through a points-based system.  She was denied entry and her passport was stamped “Barred from Entry,” which could make travel to the UK difficult in the future. The new system has also seen other internationally renowned musicians turned away, including Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov, viewed by many as the world's greatest living pianist.

Many in the British media and government are describing the laws as “un-British”.  The story made UK headlines over the weekend, and in his Sunday column in The Guardian, journalist Henry Porter wrote:

“We fondly think of ourselves as hospitable and open to new influences. But on the evidence of new laws that ban artists, musicians and academics from visiting Britain without certificates of sponsorship, we are not. When a Newfoundland-based singer Allison Crowe and two of her band members, Billie Woods and Laurent Boucher, arrived at Gatwick to tour Britain they were arrested, held in cells, photographed and fingerprinted and had their passports stamped 'Barred from Entry' before being returned to Canada.”

Earlier this year a civil liberties group called The Manifesto Club began a petition in response to the laws, demanding that they be repealed.  The petition is endorsed by dozens of significant international players in the arts community.

Since being denied entry, Crowe and her bandmates have played successful shows in Aachen and Munich, and will be continuing on to perform in Frankfurt, Berlin, Prague and Vienna.

[Allison Crowe is no terrorist. Photo: promotional photo]


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