Wednesday, 24 March 2004

USA to world musicians and artists: "Keep out!"

Artists from all over the world are being refused entry to the US on security grounds.
(The Guardian, UK)

The insanely cumbersome process of entering America [as a performing artist] now goes something like this: first, the manager or producer or venue who wants to book a foreign artist must petition one of four USCIS [US Customs and Immigration Service, part of what used to be the INS] service centres. They must prove the artist is unique, extraordinary or renowned, and that he or she intends to return to their home country after their work is done.

If the petition is accepted, it is then sent to the artist in their home country, and the artist in turn brings it to the US consulate, where he or she is fingerprinted and interviewed. After the interview, the waiting begins, as the consulate sends the application to the Department of Homeland Security and “all interested agencies”. It may take seven weeks, it may take seven months, but - and here the Kafkaesque institutional absurdity really takes hold - the law says that visas can be applied for, at the earliest, only six months in advance. Waits of up to 10 months are not uncommon.

Nor are visa applications that are never returned. “A case can disappear into the ozone,” says Ginsburg. The entire process normally runs from $2,000 to $4,000 per artist, depending on lawyers’ fees, and that does not include travelling expenses to and from consulates. In Iran, there is no American consulate, so someone like Kiarostami must travel to Syria and back - twice.

I guess all this means that if you’re in the USA, and want to hear or see world music and art first-hand, you’ll just have to go travel yourself to find it, since the USA won’t let it come to you.

One more reason to travel, if you needed one.

Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 24 March 2004, 11:17 (11:17 AM)
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