Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chorus of Outrage Prompts Rethink over Musicians Stance; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chorus of Outrage Prompts Rethink over Musicians Stance; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Gutteridge

IT'S nice to have played a small part in an important victory. Sadly I'm not talking about football because, though I screamed myself hoarse after Newcastle United's equaliser in the dying minutes of yesterday afternoon's derby match, no amount of shouting could bring a second goal and glory.

And I didn't even have time to voice my complaints about the Government's proposal to dock benefits from young people who leave their unpaid work experience before the absurd plan was cancelled thanks to some very vocal opposition from the very businesses that were supposed to implement it.

But I could claim a tiny amount of credit for a statement quietly released this week by the Home Office. Theresa May has evidently been listening to the chorus of outrage about the problems that artists, writers and musicians face in getting into our country. I wrote with some passion about this issue in This policy a mockery arts world and Britain into a August last year, astonished that our immigration authorities were treating international artists like criminals - even refusing them visas to visit their own exhibitions or book signings.

I recounted the story of the Argentinian tango dancers, Ismael Ludman and Maria Mondino, who had been held for hours like illegal immigrants at Glasgow airport when they arrived for a tour of small venues in Scotland before being ignominiously deported.

This policy had made our country a mockery throughout the arts world and was turning Britain into a cultural ghetto. Some renowned performers, like the Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov, had even boycotted the UK, likening our system to the bad days of Soviet oppression.

My comments received hundreds of responses - almost as many as my equally vitriolic comments about the television programme Geordie Shore - and later the issue was picked up by the New York Times.

Although this latter publication doubtless caused the Home Office considerably more embarrassment than my own paltry efforts, I'd like to share with you an email I received on Wednesday from the Earl of Clancarty, who's been leading the campaign in the House of Lords. …

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