Overseas artists 'poorly treated' by visa system

Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie is among the high profile signatories

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Philip Pullman is among those who have signed a letter saying the UK's points-based visa system is "inappropriate for short-term visits by artists".

The letter in the Daily Telegraph, signed by nearly 100 names from the arts world, says non-European artists are "poorly treated."

The group says the points system, introduced in 2008, is "needlessly bureaucratic and intrusive".

Other signatories include Sir Nicholas Hytner, Salman Rushdie and David Hare.

Bridget Riley, Sir Nicholas Serota, Dame Antonia Fraser, Michael Morpurgo, Hanif Kureishi, Mark Haddon and Sarah Waters also endorsed the letter.

It suggests that "as short-term visits by artists have no impact on migration, there is no need to administer their entry via the points-based system."

The group have called on the government to allow artists to circumvent the points system, as is the case "for entertainers who attend festivals."

The letter claimed that Cannes Palme d'Or-winning director Abbas Kiarostami and acclaimed concert pianist Grigory Sokolov "have been dissuaded from future visits."

It also states that organisations who sponsor such artists to visit the UK cannot afford the cost of the applications and are put off by the amount of red tape involved.

The points-based system awards points to migrants based on their skills, qualifications and experience.

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: "Creative artists from across the world are welcome to come and perform in the UK. As part of our commitment to the industry, we work with organisers of international events to ensure they are aware of the application process and are able to help facilitate urgent cases.

"However, as with any visitors to the UK, we expect individuals to meet our entry requirements."

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