Freemuse campaign: Visa issues kill music



Visa issues kill music

Concert organisers, artists and cultural organisations are faced with increasing challenges when bringing international artists into Europe. Complex visa processing, cynicism at consulates and slow Schengen procedures generate huge financial loses and great frustrations for the arts sector – and damage cultural exchange.

In collaboration with several international organisations Freemuse launches an investigation of visa and work permit procedures in order to influence policy makers and administrators.

Major cultural organisations such as European Council of Artists, European Live Music Forum, and European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals now join Freemuse in a major international initiative analysing the problems and challenges that concert organisers, artists and cultural organisations face when they bring international artists into Europe, or from one country in Europe to another.

“The European Union has signed the Unesco Convention on Cultural Diversity. One of two of the articles in the convention specifically call for ‘adapting measures in developed countries with a view to facilitating access to their territory for cultural activities from developing countries’, but we still need to see this happening,” says Ole Reitov, Freemuse’s Programme Officer who is coordinating the initiative.

During the international trade fair WOMEX 2007, held in Spain in October, a seminar organised by Michel Winter of Divano Productions discussed the complex visa and work permit issues. Freemuse then offered to host the collection of case stories and present a “white paper” to the European Parliament, the EU Commission and colleagues at national and European artists organisations.

The initiative has quickly been joined by international organisations with huge expertise and experiences in the field of cultural presentations and cultural exchange.


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Deadline: before 31 December 2007.

The initiative is joined by the following partners:

European Council of Artists, ECA – the umbrella organisation for national councils of artists in Europe:

European Live Music Forum:

European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals:

Womex – the World Music Expo:


Other intiatives

In several European countries and in the USA there are national campaigns against visa and work permits restrictions in relationship to the artists. Amongst the inititatives are:

IG World Music Austria have started an online-petition/campaign called ‘ABGESAGT (which means ‘Canceled’) – no art without artists! no culture without culture-makers!’
IG World Music Austria ask for an immediate change in the aliens law (artists lost their undeterminded residency status with the last changes in the Austrian law in 2006) and for easy visa-issuing for artist on tour.

The National Campaign for the Arts, NCA, is the United Kingdom’s only independent lobbying organisation representing all the arts. It provides a voice for the arts world in all its diversity. It seeks to safeguard, promote and develop the arts and win public and political recognition for the importance of the arts as a key element in our national culture:

Artists from Abroad
Recognising the visa and work permit challenges the American Symphony Orchestra League and Association of Performing Arts Presenters have consulted with nationally-recognized experts to create Artists from Abroad – the most complete and up-to-date online resource for foreign guest artists, their managers, and performing arts organisations visiting the USA:

US Cuba Cultural Exchange
US Cuba Cultural Exchange – a national network in the US of artists and presenters – has created a campaign towards changing the current restrictions and the ban the US government has imposed infringing on the rights of artists in both countries to collaborate and create. A letter to the American president Bush bears the signatures of more than 200 actors, musicians, filmmakers, and producers such as Harry Belafonte, Ry Cooder, Peter Coyote, Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Bonnie Raitt, Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker:

Read more on the internet – 28 November 2007:
‘Cuba’s Legendary Prima Ballerina Alicia Alonso’s Letter Ignites Massive Support from the Entertainment Industry’

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