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Aldeburgh regrets ‘invasion of privacy’ for British artists

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.


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  1. I understand why John Potter and others are incensed about this, but quite frankly Aldeburgh is hardly to blame. Last year I had to bring my passport into the office and have it photocopied in order to continue working at The Times. After 29 years on the paper, they apparently still needed proof that I am British. But this is the absurd law now.

  2. Since there is no obligation for a UK citizen to own a passport – it’s certainly not required by law (as far as I know!) unless you want to travel abroad, of course – what is the alternative requirement demanded by UKBA?

    I realise that it would be highly unusual for a working musician these days not to have a passport, but there must be an alternative. A driving license? What if you don’t have one of those either?

    • Of course it it burocracy gone mad, but it is not the fault of Organisations like Aldeburgh.

      If you want to register with an employment agency in the UK you have to prove you are eligable to work in the UK.

      This is either by producing a work permit (for non residents) or a passport.

      This is the law as dictated by the EU. No other organisation can be blamed for this other than the EU.

      This is the same as tring to blame the UK Government for splitting the railways into private companies & rail track or splitting Royal Mail so they lose money on localy posted mail.

      Or for that matter changing the law to enable Gay people to get married.

      They are all laws brought in or due to be brought in on the instructions of the EU.

      That is the kind of Dictatorship the EU has become.

      Blame the traitor Edward Heath who tricked us into joining in the first place but not the UK government now, they are just stuck with complying with these stupid laws!

  3. Kenneth Griffin says:

    A simple alternative would be a compulsory UK identity card … but good luck to any Government or Agency introducing that because those most proud to trumpet their Britishness are loudest in claiming their “right” not to prove their identity. This “right” is a fundamental part of the invisible UK constitution…

  4. One wonders what might be the motivation- some sort of post 9/11 national security tracking of musicians? (Any psychiatrist can tell you that they are the subversive ones in our society.) Or, a census to measure who’s coming to play in “our festival home” and steal “our markets”? Or the fact that Alderburgh is near a nuclear facility with toxic waste disposal problems? (SIzewell, is it?) Wouldn’t want any protester riff raff (or platoons of Iranian nuclear physicists) infiltrating backstage to join the chorus. Now that would pose a serious, serious security risk for the Empire, even if the water were not already contaminated.

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