The petition against the British Home Office’s ludicrous restrictions preventing non-EU artists and academics from participating the UK’s cultural life – rules which could affect visiting comic artists to conventions in future – is getting closer to its target of 10,000 signatories. When the campaigners reach their target they will send a delegation to 10 Downing Street with the petition.
“We’re nearly there,” says campaign co-ordinator Manick Govinda, but they need just a bit more help to make an impact.
“The points based system which replaced the far more flexible work permits will be a year old on 27 November,” explains Manick. “We want to hand the petition in by that date to mark that moment when our freedom to invite artists, writers, poets, dancers, musicians, academics and intellectuals – professionals and amateurs – were taken away from us.”
Very recent examples of barred entry included US artist Cristina Winsor, detained and deported for allegedly intending to sell two small paintings at a local arts event in east London;
US artist MP Landis, his wife and four-month-old baby, detained and deported for not having the correct paperwork (Glenfiddich Distilleries invited him for a summer residency); and Indian artist Anirban Mitra, refused a visa for the same residency opportunity after waiting for four months for a decision at great expense;
“The Home Office and the UK Border Authority need to get a sense of proportion,” argues Manick. “Hundreds of community, amateur and cultural groups are being affected as well as big national arts institutions.
“We need to send a loud message to the Home Office that these ludicrous regulations need to be seriously reviewed and reconsidered.
“This petition has collected a huge breadth of voices from all walks of life, nationalities, political and religious persuasions.”
If you haven’t signed it, please do so via this link. If each of you signing can persuade a friend, colleague or family member to sign the petition then the campaign has more than reached its target.