Following yesterday’s discovery that British artists must show their passports if they want to perform at the Britten festivals, we have received this response from Shoel Stadlen at Aldeburgh Music:
We completely understand why artists are surprised and annoyed about the new UK Border Agency (UKBA) rules. Following a recent UKBA audit, we have been instructed to view and copy passports of all visiting artists and having taken advice we feel we have no option but to follow this new guidance, so as not to jeopardise our ability to invite musicians from around the world . It’s a huge administrative burden on Aldeburgh Music and feels like an invasion of privacy for the artists. It’s ironic that this is our founder Benjamin Britten’s centenary year and he was a composer who did so much to further the causes of peace and artistic links across borders.
While we are not the first organisation to be asked to do this, it is likely to be something which more and more arts organisations will have to respond to in the near future. Hopefully the arts sector will be able to agree a collective view on this and common sense will prevail. In the meantime we have to proceed as instructed and hope that this doesn’t disrupt the exciting summer of music making that we have planned.