The Georgian actors were invited to the annual festival Flair15 by the festival’s director, Neil Mckenzie, although Britain’s Embassy in Georgia declined them a VISA.
The official reason was their possible wish to migrate to Britain, writes the British publication, Guardian. The girls are young, and their income and bank accounts are not sizable, so they were not able to prove that they weren’t visiting Manchester to stay.
FLARE15 is a highly selective international festival celebrating the creativity and performance of young artists, and as such they need to bring artists like these to this country. Of course, they come from a poorer country than ours, as most are, and have little financial security there, as young artists often do. UKVI are concerned they might want to stay in this country when they come, to become illegal economic immigrants, for a better chance of a better economic future. We know the story.
A British publication journalist explains that British artists almost never get into similar situations, expressing discomfort regarding the small chances of people from other cultures being accepted to Britain and exchanging their experience, while their own residents have no trouble doing that.
Theatre should be without borders, but while British companies get to perform around the world – and their work improves because of it – it’s a different story for foreign artists invited here
The journalist gives the example of Chinese and Indian artists who have brought and taken various new pieces of information to their respective countries.
Neil Mckenzie and the festival’s leads are actively continuing to ensure VISAs for the actors, creating a petition on www.change.org asking to better integrate artists with the world. The petition currently has 684 signatures.
This situation is nothing new, and a number of talented people and teams who had the desire to take their profile boosting chances have been declined a British VISA’s.
The journalist says that British actors and artists have numerous opportunities to express their capabilities, and it’s unfortunate that residents of other countries have much less chances. The Guardian journalist hopes that this problem won’t go on for much longer.
But for how long, if there is no reciprocity? As this example and others seem to show, and as Wenzel observes: “artists’ freedoms stop at EU borders”.