Whilst in the UK during the Breathe Residency, I’d heard rumblings that the UK’s Home Office (domestic government) planned to tighten the borders with hugely detrimental effects on art galleries and residency programmes. The new procedures require:
“All non-EU visitors now must apply for a visa in person, and supply biometric data, electronic fingerprint scans and a digital photograph. The Home Office’s 158-page guideline document also outlines new controls over visitors’ day-to-day activity: visitors must show that they have at least £800 pounds of personal savings, which have been held for at least three months prior to the date of their application.”
What?! £800 amounts to over $1,300 USD. It would be nice if all artists could maintain a little nest egg, just for their own financial security—however, to maintain it for the sole purpose of entering the UK for a residency program or art exhibition seems ridiculous. The rate of exchange is not really favorable for Americans — imagine the challenge for artists from developing countries. There must be away to keep the country safe, without making England seem so Orwellian to its own highly-surveilled citizens and unwelcoming to potential visitors.
Some art organizations are getting organized and have posted a petition aimed at Parliament here.