Petition against Home Office restrictions on non-EU artists and academics

Malevich painting of four figuresThe Home Office recently introduced new restrictions on international artists and academics visiting the UK for talks, temporary exhibitions, concerts or artists’ residencies. Visitors now have to submit to a series of arduous and expensive proceedures to get their visa, and then more bureaucratic controls when they are in the UK. Already a series of concerts and residencies have been cancelled.

The Manifesto Club is coordinating a campaign against these regulations. The campaign is led by Manick Govinda, artists’ adviser at Artsadmin, and has won support from artists, musicians, gallery directors, academics and students. Together we call for these parochial and suspicious regulations to be reconsidered, and affirm the vital contribution made by global artists and scholars to UK cultural and intellectual life.

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The Home Office’s new points-based visa system has meant thousands of international students unable to start their courses on time, cancelled concerts and lecture series, and the growth of suspicion and surveillance on campus. Come and discuss these new rules – and what we can do about them.

Speakers include : Helena Kennedy QC (leading human rights barrister), Lord Clement Jones (Lib Dem spokesperson on Culture, Media and Sport), Lisa Appignanesi (English PEN), Manick Govinda
(Artsadmin and Manifesto Club), Josie Appleton (convenor, Manifesto Club), Des Freedman (secretary, Goldsmiths UCU)

Venue: Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA

Time: 6.30-8pm (with wine afterwards)

Free but reservation required: email

Date: 17 March

A Manifesto Club and English PEN event. This event will be the official launch of the Manifesto Club petition against the points-based visa system – we will be delivering it to Downing Street that afternoon.


As the Home Office announces the tightening of the points-based visa system for international students, a new Manifesto Club report shows that the system has already barred thousands of genuine students from the UK.

The points-based visa system (rolled out in March 2009) imposed burdensome new requirements on international students and academics – including higher visa fees, biometric profiling, and a requirement to prove up to £7000 savings.

Fortress Academy, by Manifesto Club researcher Valerie Hartwich, shows the Kafkaesque and discriminatory effects of these new rules.

PUBLICATION: UK ARTS AND CULTURE – CANCELLED, BY ORDER OF THE HOME OFFICENib logoThe Home Office recently introduced new restrictions on international artists and academics visiting the UK for talks, temporary exhibitions, concerts or artists’ residencies. The Manifesto Club has launched a report, UK Arts and Culture: Cancelled, by Order of the Home Office, detailing the damaging effect that these regulations are having on UK cultural life, including: cancelled concerts and artists’ residencies, cancelled dance shows, the collapse of a Russian ballet company, cancelled academics visits and workshops.

These case studies have been submitted to us over the past few months, after the launch of our Visiting Artists Campaign in February 2009. We will send the report and petition to the UK Home Office, and call on it to reconsider these pointless and suspicious regulations – before more damage is done to UK cultural life. The report is launched at our Cabaret Without Borders, on Wednesday 3 June. See the report in The Times. Download the report: UK Arts and Culture: Cancelled, by Order of the Home Office

Cabaret room 3 June – Cabaret Without Borders, London – A convivial evening of satirical artistic interventions, passionate political rhetoric and personal testimonies at the East London gallery, Rochelle School, celebrating free movement for all and opposition to the Home Office’s new Visa controls for visiting artists and academics.

Talks and performances include : Maureen Duffy (talk), Harold Offeh (performance intervention), Susannah Hewlett (performance intervention), Mark McGowan with Jaemini Kim (performance intervention), Cyril LePetit (sound piece & photograph/poster based on a project with Asylum Seekers), Andrew Mitchelson (travels to Kurdistan-Iraq), Josie Appleton (on why free movement matters).

See the Video of the Cabaret Without Borders Event, on WorldBytes.

This is part of the Manifesto Club events series, Freedom Summer. Supported by A Foundation.


1. Help us reach 10,000

The petition is growing fast. Our aim is to reach 10,000 signatories to force politicians to take notice. So please get the petition out everywhere you can. Send it around friends and colleagues; get it on mailing lists; post on websites and facebook groups; get it discussed in organisations.

2. Write to your MP

MPs do pay attention to constituents’ mail, so writing a letter is a good way to raise our issue’s political profile. You can easily write to your MP using the message service, Write to them. Your message will be faxed or emailed directly to your local MP.

    Key points to mention:
    – Tell them your concerns about the issue, and how it’s effecting artists, scholars and many other professions. If you have been personally/professionally affected give them a brief account of what happened;
    – Let them know that the points-based system could have a potentially detrimental effect on the UK’s arts and cultural sector, and it may affect local arts groups and festivals in his/her constituency;
    – Ask your MP to consider raising a question of clarification with the home secretary and/or home office ministers

3. Complete our online survey

If you have been (or will be) affected by these regulations, please do complete our campaign’s online survey. This will provide a rich source of material for us to better argue the case and gain more publicity for our campaign.


Accounts of cancelled concerts and exhibitions, and other problems that these regulations are causing for organisations who work with international artists and academics. To post a comment, email: