Tuesday, 8 March 2005

One Reason You Can't Hear Us

Musicians from the UK are calling on America to relax strict visa regulations which, they claim, prevent grass roots artists from performing in the US. Artists claim that the US visa application process is too complicated and too expensive. Artists have to fill out a 30 page form and pay £680 to perform in America - with the threat that if they get the application process wrong they might be banned from making another application for five years. American artists coming to the UK go through a much simpler visa application process, while the US themselves have developed a stripped down visa application process for journalists and athletes.

Nigel McCune from the Musicians' Union said the unfair visa system meant that British performers are "disadvantaged" compared to their US counterparts: "The US is the world's biggest music market, which means something has to be done about the creaky bureaucracy. The current situation is preventing British acts from maintaining momentum and developing in the US".

James Seller of the Music Managers' Forum added: "Imagine if you were an orchestra from the Orkneys? Every member would have to travel to London to have their visas processed." (*Dread to think what NASTY and Roll Deep will do). Commenting on the music community's concern regarding the US visa process a spokesman for the Department for Media, Culture and Sport told reporters: "We're aware that people are experiencing problems, and are working with the US embassy and record industry to see what we can do about it."

For their part, the US embassy said: "We are aware that entertainers require visas for time-specific projects and are doing everything we can to process those applications speedily. We are aware of the importance of cultural exchange and we will do our best to facilitate that".

*Taken from todays CMU Daily*

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