'Visas - The Discordant Note': Paper on Visa Issues and Artists Mobility

Launch of White paper ‘Visas – the discordant note’ on visa issues, Europe and artists mobility.

“European countries need to actively make visa and work permit procedures and access to the European market more flexible, transparent and homogenous for artists,” said Freemuse programme manager Ole Reitov today as he launched a white paper on visa issues at Womex, the world music expo in Sevilla, Spain.

The white paper entitled ‘Visas – the discordant note’ deals with visa issues and artists mobility and highlight a number of problems faced by creative companies working with artists from Non-EU and Non-Schengen countries.

The white paper points out that as visa procedures are extremely time consuming and costly this may prevent cultural projects from being realised.

Decrease of cultural diversity
The white paper is published by Freemuse in collaboration with ECA, the European Council of Artists, and ELMF, a wide network of European concert organisers, festivals and venues. Several respondents have pointed out that this leads to significant decrease of the cultural diversity on the European cultural scene.

Seen from the perspective of artists from these countries, they loose an important market and essential networking options. As one respondent reflects:

“The rejection of visas reduces the opportunities for artists – sometimes whole families and even whole villages – in less developed countries to rise above poverty and thus lead better lives”

Lack of respect
“If the political will is there, it shouldn’t be difficult for the EU countries to change complex administrative procedures,” said Ole Reitov. “But unfortunately several ministries involved in visa issues and work permits do not collborate very well, so this issue has to be raised at national as well as international level.”

According to Ole Reitov it is equally important to understand that visa issuing offices — and hence the EU countries — are judged by their attitude to artists.

“Several European countries wish to improve their cultural and public diplomacy, but many artists are treated with a lack of respect. They experience the paradox of being invited by mayors of European City councils, government-financed cultural bodies in the EU and respected cultural organisations and the contrast on the ground reality once they enter our Embassies and are looked upon as potential illegal immigrants.”

One of the recommendations of the white paper is that ‘one stop entry points’ are introduced, so that organisers and artists can apply at one office instead of being sent from ‘Herode to Pilate’. The white paper also suggests that the EU launches a web-platform where all relevant information can be found and updated.